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Posted By Topic: SBOBET: Latest UEFA Champions League News       - Views: 935 Change Timezone:
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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 2:33 PM (278 days ago)               #1
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Champions League: Lyon Make Last Stand in Leipzig

Lyon vs RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig will be under relatively little pressure in their final Champions League group game. The German side has already ensured qualification to the round of 16 and only need to avoid defeat to secure top spot in Group G.

Their opponents, Lyon, still have everything to play for, though. The French outfit can still make it to the knockout phase if they can get a better result against the Red Bulls than Zenit against Benfica.

The Champions League 2019 betting odds have Lyon priced as slight favourites to win at home, but beating an in-form RB Leipzig side will still be easier said than done.

 

Talking Points

Lyon still looking wobbly

Lyon just can't seem to string some decent results together. They've alternated wins and losses in their last seven matches in all competitions.

They picked up one of their biggest wins of the season over the weekend as they thumped Nimes, 4-0. But even then, they needed the bottom club in Ligue 1 to go down to nine men before they finally put the game away.

 


 

 

On the bright side, though, Memphis Depay has continued his outstanding form this season. The Dutch forward bagged a brace and an assist against Nimes and has now scored eight goals in his last eight appearances for his club.

Depay has also been producing a host of Champions League 2019 highlights. He's scored four goals in five matches in this year's competition. One of those goals was the opener in Lyon's shock 2-0 win over Leipzig in Germany.

Lyon will be without defenders Leo Dubois and Youssouf Kone, while Rafael is a doubt. Meanwhile, speedster Maxwel Cornet is also a question mark.

Even without Cornet, Lyon still has a wealth of attacking weapons with Depay, Moussa Dembele, Bertrand Traore, and Houssem Aouar. But those absent defenders will most likely make Lyon a bit vulnerable at the back.

RB Leipzig's impressive unbeaten run

RB Leipzig have been in imperious form of late. Since suffering that shock home loss to Lyon, they've lost just one of their last 12 matches (eight wins, three draws). Moreover, they've gone unbeaten in their last eight matches, winning seven of them.

Leipzig almost lost that unbeaten streak when they fell two goals behind at home to Benfica in their last Champions League outing. But they were able to salvage a dramatic draw thanks to a late Emil Forsberg brace.

They are coming off another impressive 3-1 win at home against Hoffenheim over the weekend, which has seen them stay in second, just one point behind surprise leaders Borussia Monchengladbach.

Timo Werner continued his remarkable goalscoring run by bagging another brace. The German has gone up to another level under manager Julian Nagelsmann. He already has 15 goals and five assists in 14 Bundesliga appearances and has added two goals and an assist in the Champions League.

Fellow forward Marcel Sabitzer has also been unleashed as a goal machine. The Austrian has already scored eight goals this season, surpassing last year's tally of five for all of last year.

Emil Forsberg in top form ahead of their Champions League clash against Lyon
RB Leipzig's Emil Forsberg celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates

However, the downside has been that their defence under Nagelsmann has not been that secure. They've kept just three cleans sheet in the league and have one in five Champions League matches.

The absence of starting central defenders Ibrahima Konate and Willi Orban for their trip to Lyon won't help matters. Forward Yussuf Poulsen is also a doubt to feature.

But with Werner and Sabitzer, Leipzig still have the ability to do significant damage against a Lyon defence which could be exposed as they go in search of the win.

 

History

This will be the two sides' second meeting all-time after Lyon surprised Red Bull at Leipzig.

Lyon have not had a particularly great home record against German clubs in recent years, winning one of their last four meetings. However, they've won seven of 13 such matches overall, with two draws and four defeats.

As for Leipzig, they've had two trips to France in their history. They won 4-1 at Monaco but were smashed 5-2 against Marseille in their 2018 Europa League quarter-final second leg, which they lost 5-3 on aggregate.

 

Betting Tip

??

Lyon vs RB Leipzig Draw 1X2 @ 3.55
December 11, 04:00 (GMT+8)

The SBOBET odds for this match are quite tight. Lyon are slight favourites at 2.46 to pick up the home win, while Leipzig aren't far behind at 2.62. A draw is priced at 3.55.

You could really see the match going either way, but I'm sticking my neck out and will go with a draw. And with both sides missing some key defenders, it could be quite an entertaining draw as well.

Lyon will most likely be on the offensive at home, and that should play right into Leipzig's hands with Werner and Sabitzer capable of hitting them on lightning-quick counterattacks.

Despite the French side's best efforts, Leipzig should still come away with the draw they need to top the group.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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This message was edited by SBOBET on 17-Dec-2019 at 2:33 PM


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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 3:41 PM (278 days ago)            #2
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Champions League: Liverpool Pass the Red Bull Test

Red Bull Salzburg 0-2 Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool booked their place in the knockout phase of the Champions League tonight with an impressive victory over a dangerous Red Bull Salzburg.

The Reds just needed a draw to qualify for the round of 16, and after an end-to-end first 45 minutes, even that looked in doubt. But two goals in two minutes early in the second half settled any Liverpool nerves.

Red Bull head coach Jesse Marsch can be proud of the way his young team has performed in a difficult group, but tonight, their usually free-scoring forwards came up against a world-class defence and a keeper on form.

In other Group E Champions League 2019 news, Napoli needed to see off Genk, and did so in style, with a thumping 4-0 win, and so the Serie A side joins Liverpool in the next stage.

 

Highlights of the game

Salzburg showed both sides of their game in the opening minutes: suspect defence and explosive attack.

The Austrians allowed Mo Salah in on goal and his shot was destined for the bottom corner until keeper Cican Stankovic stuck out a boot to save. Then, Red Bull broke when Takumi Minamino’s clever backheel released Hee-Chang Hwang, but his effort was saved by Alisson.

After a fast start from the hosts, Liverpool seemed to be getting a foothold in the game. Sadio Mane had a good chance on 20 minutes, which Stankovic blocked. Naby Keita followed up and his shot was charged down before Trent Alexander-Arnold skied his effort.

At the other end, Hwang almost got Erling Braut Haaland in, but Alisson was quick to stop the danger. Then, the Reds keeper made a good save from Haaland when the big Norwegian hit a fierce shot on goal.

Red Bull fail to defend their home turf against the reigning Champions League winners
Erling Braut Haaland attempts a goal with two Liverpool defenders trying to block

On the half-hour, Liverpool had a huge chance to break the deadlock. Keita played in Salah, and as we all expected the net to bulge, the Egyptian screwed his shot wide of the near post.

The Reds had a scare at the start of the second half when Haaland’s shot appeared to hit Dejan Lovren on the arm. The home players and fans appealed for a penalty, but the ref waved play on. And then, on 49 minutes Salah had another great chance when Mane put him through, but this time he blazed his shot over the bar.

Stankovic dove at Salah’s feet to make a brave save as the Egyptian looked set to break his duck and then, at the other end, Haaland blasted one into the side netting.

But in the blink of an eye, Liverpool were 0-2 up.

First, Naby Keita broke Red Bull’s resistance on 57 minutes, when Mane got in behind the defence before chipping over for the Guinean midfielder to head home. And 100 seconds later, after squandering two golden opportunities, Salah finally got his goal, and what a goal it was!

The Liverpool striker latched on to a long ball and took it round the keeper, but even though his touch took him wide, he still scored from the tightest of angles to seal the deal.

And that was that. Salah and Mane both had chances to make it 3-0, but two was more than enough for the celebrating band of travelling fans.

 

Key statistics

This game was still on a knife-edge at half-time, and while Liverpool had enjoyed more possession and shots, 57 per cent and eight to seven, the hosts had given Alisson a busy 45 minutes with six shots on target to Liverpool’s three.

Here at SBOBET, we expected goals in the first half, but we didn’t have to wait long after the break when Klopp’s team booked their place in the round of 16 with two explosive minutes early in the second period.

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The Champions League 2019 betting odds had Liverpool as third favourites to lift the trophy before kick-off, and at half-time that looked seriously under threat. But the Reds took control in the second 45, eventually winning the shot count by 21 to 11 with both teams having seven on target.

Salah’s goal took a while coming, but it’s his 19th for Liverpool in the Champions League.

 

What’s next?

Now it’s back to the Premier League for Liverpool where they hold an eight-point lead over Leicester City at the top of the table. And they are highly likely to maintain that when they entertain bottom club Watford at Anfield.

The Hornets have raised eyebrows this week, appointing their third manager of the season, this time plumping for Nigel Pearson, the ex-Leicester head coach.

Salzburg are unbeaten in 17 games in the Austrian Bundesliga and have an away game to Hartberg on Saturday; the sixth-place side have won three and lost two of their last five.

 

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This message was edited by SBOBET on 17-Dec-2019 at 3:41 PM


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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 3:45 PM (278 days ago)            #3
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Champions League: The Teen Who Broke Inter’s Hearts

Inter Milan 1-2 Barcelona

As Champions League groups go, this was as tough as they get.

In fact, for the second successive season, the fates had not fallen kindly when it came to Inter Milan and group stage pairings.

Last year, they narrowly missed out on a place in the last 16 of a group that also included Barcelona, Spurs, and PSV Eindhoven.

This time it was largely Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund who stood in their way.

A night of drama in the San Siro, where the sides drew 13 months ago -- when an 87th-minute Mauro Icardi goal earned Inter a 1-1 four minutes after Malcom had put Barça in front -- was always likely.

 

Highlights of the game

Antonio Conte failed to guide Inter Milan to the Champions League last 16
Antonio Conte was sad to see Inter Milan miss the Champions League last 16

The SBOBET Champions League betting odds favoured Internazionale and so did many of the omens.

That was because there was a genuine feeling the Catalan giants may take their foot off the gas.

With top spot in Group F long assured, it seemed likely coach Ernesto Valverde would shuffle his pack. It meant that the likes of Arturo Vidal, Carles Perez and Samuel Umtiti would start and they all did.

Moreover, it meant rests for a number of star men including Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto. In fact, by my calculations only five of the starting XI would usually be included.

Inter were up against a Barcelona side who had not lost a group stage fixture for more than three years.

They also knew they almost certainly had to win with Dortmund clear favourites to see off Slavia Prague at home.

Yes the Nerazzurri were unbeaten in their last nine matches with La Liga opposition on home soil, but they had recorded just three wins during that run so it was far from clear cut.

With a passionate crowd behind them, Inter were determined to build on their impressive start to the 2019-20 Serie A campaign. Their draw at Roma, coupled with champions Juventus losing at Roma, has left them two points clear at the top of the table.

Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez have formed an impressive partnership and they needed to be on form, even against a weakened Barca.

Martinez gave an indication of his intentions inside the opening minute with a shot that was blocked and team-mate Cristiano Biraghi also threatened early on but this was far from one-sided and Perez and Moussa Wague had dangerous efforts before the former opened the scoring with a left-footed shot.

The offside trap failed as the ball ultimately came off Diego Godin who knocked it into Perez’s path.

Inter needed to react before the break and Martinez forced a tricky save on the half-volley from debutant Neto before Danilo D’Ambrosio’s header skimmed the woodwork from a Lukaku cross.

The pressure finally paid off a minute before the break as Martinez held up the ball on the edge of the box and found Lukaku who drilled home from just outside the penalty area, with the aid of a deflection.

Into the second half and the game remained end-to-end with Ivan Rakitic and Antoine Griezmann firing in efforts for Barcelona and the home strike duo a constant threat for Inter.

As news came through that Dortmund were leading 2-1, Inter’s coach Antonio Conte threw on Matteo Politano and Sebastiano Esposito for the final push.

Yet as the pressure built, Barcelona remained dangerous on the counter and duly scored the goal which broke Inter hearts.

Teenager Ansu Fati had only been on the pitch a minute when he rifled the ball from the edge of the box and it bounced in off the inside of the far post.

A 17-year-old to watch for Barca and the inquest for big-spending Conte will begin.

A tough group but criticism will now rightly come the Nerazzurri’s way.

 



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Fati has become the youngest player to score in the history of the tournament (17 years and 40 days), beating Peter Oforiquaye’s previous record with Olympiacos against Rosenborg in October 1997 (17 years and 194 days).

This was Barcelona’s 150th UEFA Champions League win. Only Real Madrid have reached that landmark in the competition so far.

Barca have not failed to qualify for the knockout round of the Champions League since the 2000-01 season, while they have reached the last-16 stage or better in each of their last 16 campaigns.

The last seven Inter goals among Champions League and Serie A have been netted from strike duo Lukaku (3) and Martinez (4).

Barca have a mixed record away to Serie A opposition, winning seven, drawing 11, and losing seven of their 25 matches.

 

What’s next?

Inter Milan now have two Serie A fixtures before the domestic winter break. They travel to Fiorentina on Sunday (December 15) and then host Genoa on December 21.

Barcelona are at Real Sociedad this weekend before the ‘big one’ domestically. The first ‘El Clasico’ of the season takes place at the Nou Camp a week tonight (December 18).

 

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This message was edited by SBOBET on 17-Dec-2019 at 3:46 PM


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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 3:48 PM (278 days ago)            #4
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Champions League: Memphis Fires Lyon into Last 16

Lyon 2-2 RB Leipzig

Lyon entered their final Champions League group match against RB Leipzig knowing they still had a decent chance to move on to the round of 16. They only needed to pick up a better result than Zenit St. Petersburg, who were away at Benfica.

Their Champions League 2019 odds of going through were looking bleak after going down two goals at home in the first half. But a spirited second-half comeback, capped off by a late Memphis Depay strike, coupled with a Zenit defeat saw them through to the knockout phase.

As predicted in SBOBET's preview of this match, there were bound to be goals in this match given some absentees in defence for both teams. And despite Lyon winning the reverse fixture in Germany, Leipzig were in great form heading into the match and would be tough to beat.

But in the end, all Lyon needed was a point to secure passage to the next round, and they have their star man to thank.

 

Highlights of the game

It took Leipzig just nine minutes to take the lead over Lyon. Leipzig captain Diego Demme delivered a dangerous through ball for Yussuf Poulsen, who was brought down in the penalty area by on-rushing Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes.

Referee Anthony Taylor initially signalled for a throw-in, but after a VAR review, Leipzig were rightly awarded a penalty. Emil Forsberg stepped up to take the spot-kick, and the Swede coolly slotted the ball into the corner to put the visitors in front.

On 27 minutes, Leipzig star Timo Werner found himself one-on-one with Lopes, but the in-form striker failed to take his chance. However, the goal wouldn't have counted anyway as he was just offside.

RB Leipzig top the Champions League Group G table with 11 points while Lyon finish at second with 8 points
RB Leipzig squad celebrate after Timo Werner scores their second goal during Group G Champions League match against Lyon at the Lyon Olympic Stadium

But the German would get himself on the scoresheet just a few minutes later as Leipzig were awarded another penalty for Lucas Tousart's crunching challenge on Christopher Nkunku. Werner made no mistake from the spot as he doubled Leipzig's advantage.

Lyon were looking dead and buried down two goals at home at the half, but they handed themselves a lifeline five minutes after the break.

Houssem Aouar showed why he's one of the most highly rated young talents in all of Europe with a brilliant curling effort which is undoubtedly one of the top Champions League 2019 highlights of the round.

Leipzig almost restored their two-goal advantage on 65 minutes after an impressive move saw Demme get a shot on goal from close range. However, the Leipzig captain was denied by a crucial block from Lyon defender Rafael.

At the other end, Memphis had a couple of attempts from distance that did not trouble Leipzig keeper Peter Gulacsi. But Depay wouldn't be denied as he eventually got Lyon's equaliser.

The Dutch striker displayed some impressive strength to outmuscle a Leipzig defender to get to the ball inside the six-yard box. And he showed great instinct to find the target on the turn.

That goal would prove crucial as it would see Les Gones through to the knockout phase for the second season running.



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Key statistics

The final statistics for this match were quite even. Leipzig edged out possession, 53 per cent to 47, although the total shots were even at 13. Lyon had two more shots on target, 6-4.

Memphis was responsible for four of those six shots on target as the Dutchman had five shots overall. He finished the Champions League group stage with a very impressive tally of five goals in five games.

Meanwhile, his Leipzig counterpart Werner had a relatively quiet game. The German didn't get a shot off apart from his penalty. But he still got his goal, giving him 18 for the season and four in his last three games.

 

What's next?

With progress in the Champions League secured, Lyon can now focus on improving their league positioning for the time being. Their next assignment will see them face a high-flying Rennes side that's currently fourth after winning three on the bounce and five of their last six.

As for Leipzig, they will look to continue their outstanding league form, where they've won five matches in a row. Their next match will see them go away to struggling Fortuna Dusseldorf, who currently find themselves third from bottom in the Bundesliga.

And after that, Leipzig go to Signal Iduna Park for their big showdown against third-placed Borussia Dortmund, which should be a terrific match.

 

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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 3:50 PM (278 days ago)            #5
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Champions League: Arkadiusz Milik’s Hat-Trick Locks Napoli’s Last-16 Berth

Napoli 4-0 Genk

Napoli have clinched their spot to the next round of the Champions League by thrashing Genk in a masterpiece. It was a much-needed win for the Italian side, as Carlo Ancelotti’s men couldn’t buy a victory prior to this match.

Arkadiusz Milik led the charge with his treble by setting the tone early in the first half while Dries Mertens added one more in the latter stages of the match via a penalty kick.

With Genk not favoured in our Champions League 2019 odds as they are already consigned to finish at the bottom of Group E, there was some pressure for the Italians to finish on a high note in front of their fans at Stadio San Paolo.

Napoli and Liverpool are set to move on to the next round by placing in the top two of Group E, leaving Red Bull getting the Europa League spot and Genk having to go home early.

Hours after the victory, Napoli delivered some shocking Champions League 2019 news when they relieved team manager Carlo Ancelotti from his duties. It remains to be seen on where he’ll end up next, but perhaps a return back home in AC Milan might be a good place to go given their recent struggles.

SBOBET offers to you the highlights of this superb game by the Partenopei.

 

Highlights of the game

Teenage goalkeeper Maarten Vandevoordt made his Champions League debut for Genk, and it was a night to forget for him. He was the youngest to make his maiden appearance at 17 years and 287 days.

Vandevoordt conceded an early goal in just less than two minutes as Arkadiusz Milik smashed home an easy one when the teenage goalkeeper panicked and failed to clear the ball.

He was tested once more when Kalidou Koulibaly had a header of an attempt, but his shot hit the post and bounced in. It looked like a goal upon first look, but the VAR didn’t count it upon further review.

Napoli controlled pretty much of the first half as Genk were in the defensive all night long. Dries Mertens and Arkadiusz Milik continued to dictate the tempo for the Partenopei.

Paul Onuachu had a rare chance to answer back for Genk in the 16th minute after a lovely pass by his teammate. However, his shot went too narrow to the left.

Arkadiusz Milik would score his second goal of the night 10 minutes later via a beautiful cross by Giovanni di Lorenzo, as Maarten Vandevoordt was left on an island.

Alex Meret showed his wares defensively when he prevented a forming attack by Genk in the 33rd minute. He intercepted a pass from Junya Ito for a possible attempt by Mbwana Samatta.

Arkadiusz Milik was instrumental for Napoli to secure the Champions League win over Genk
Arkadiusz Milik celebrates his hat-trick for Napoli as they take the win

A few minutes later, Genk were called for a yellow card when Vandevoordt made a brave challenge to a hard-charging Jose Callejon. Arkadiusz Milik, who had the hot hand, scored off of a calm penalty kick to secure his first Napoli hat-trick.

Allan almost joined in the scoring party in the second half when he found himself open inside the box. However, his shot went too far wide to the left.

Vandevoordt was doing much better in the second half as he would make better decisions, including a save after a weak strike by Fabian Ruiz and a long clearance at the 68th minute when his defender passed him the ball while Koulibaly was trailing from the play.

It was Napoli’s turn to showcase their improved backline as they would prevent Genk from having shots on target. The Belgian team’s long ball attempts didn’t work as defenders like Kostas Manolas and Kalidou Koulibaly showed their aerial prowess to head those away.

Jose Callejon drew another penalty violation for Genk when his strike hit the backhand of Casper de Norre. Dries Mertens let out a cool finish to cap off their strong performance.

 

Key statistics

By demolishing Genk, Napoli have registered their biggest winning margin ever in the Champions League.

Arkadiusz Milik’s goal under three minutes was the second-fastest time for a Napoli player to score in the Champions League. The fastest one was Piotr Zielinski back in 2018 against Feyenoord when he netted one in the first 1:35.

Genk finished at the bottom once more in the group stages for the third consecutive time. They also didn’t fare well back in the 2003 and 2012 editions of the tournament.

 

What’s next?

Napoli are going to host the visiting Parma for their Serie A match while Genk will go back home to clash against Waasland-Beveren in the Belgian Pro League.

 

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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 3:52 PM (278 days ago)            #6
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Champions League: It’s Bye Bye Bayer as Cristiano Strikes

Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Juventus

A 75th-minute goal from Cristiano Ronaldo finished off Juventus’ Champions League Group D campaign with a win while Bayer Leverkusen say goodbye to the competition.

Bayer’s knockout stage hopes were hanging by a thread before kick-off, and they fought for all they were worth in a first half they dominated from start to finish.

But Peter Bosz’s side seemed to have worn themselves out in the second half and submitted to Ronaldo’s late strike. Gonzalo Higuain added a second in injury time to seal Bayer’s fate.

So I Bianconeri finish top of the group by a clear six points and are joined by Atletico Madrid in the round of 16.

 

Highlights of the game

Gigi Buffon praised Ronaldo and Higuain for leading by example in Juventus' win over Leverkusen in the Champions League
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon makes a save during their Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen at the BayArena

With all to play for, die Werkself started like a house on fire, and when skipper Lars Bender crossed for Moussa Diaby his left-footed shot flew past the right-hand post.

The BayArena crowd was up for this game, and they roared their team on as Kerem Demirbay took a pot shot from outside the penalty area which whistled narrowly wide.

Then, on 11 minutes, Diaby took a pass from Lucas Alario and his shot cannoned off the left-hand post and away to safety.

Most pre-match Bayer Leverkusen vs Juventus betting tips were favourable to the hosts who were favourites to win at odds of 2.11, and they were certainly playing like the side with a mission. Alario had two headed efforts, one directed just wide and the second blocked by a resolute Juventus defence.

Ronaldo was on target when I Bianconeri beat Bayer 3-0 earlier in the competition, and he had the visitors’ first effort halfway through the first 45, but his effort flew across the face of goal and wide.

A minute later, Juan Cuadrado, who had been sent off during Juve’s loss to Lazio at the weekend, had a fine effort which went narrowly wide.

The best attempt of the half came when Karim Bellarabi found enough space in the penalty area to fire a shot towards the bottom left corner. But Juve’s veteran keeper Gigi Buffon was equal to it, getting down quickly to save.

I Bianconeri came out for the second half with more purpose, maybe with some words from Maurizio Sarri stinging their ears, but Ronaldo was just offside when Federico Bernardeschi put him through on goal.

Much of the wind seemed to have disappeared from die Werkself’s sails and Paulo Dybala came close to putting the visitors ahead midway through the second period. And with 15 minutes remaining, Dybala was the provider, putting a cross on a plate for Ronaldo to fire home.

That was that for Leverkusen and they offered little in the way of an attempted comeback, and even less in the way of resistance when Higuain took a pass from Dybala and fired the ball low into the corner.



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Key statistics

With 13 points already in the bag, Juventus were already through to the knockout stages as group winners, and when the Champions League 2019 updates filtered through, the news that Atleti were ahead at half-time was a serious blow to the German side.

Leverkusen totally dominated the first half with 58 per cent possession and 13 shots to three, but they only tested Gigi Buffon the once. But in the second half, they offered very little and nothing to trouble Buffon, while Juventus had two shots on target, both hitting the net.

This loss ended Leverkusen’s unbeaten run of six games in all competitions. They also continued to struggle at the BayArena in European games; they have won just two of their last nine Champions League games at home.

I Bianconeri have finished the group by winning their last five Champions League fixtures, but this was only the second win in six on their travels.

 

What’s next?

It’s back to domestic football at the weekend so keep it here for all the latest news, updates and SBOBET predictions.

Having lost last week to Lazio, the Old Lady is thanking her lucky stars that Inter missed the chance to pull clear, settling for a draw at home to Roma. Next up, Juventus are at home to Udinese, down in 16th place and with just one win in six.

Leverkusen have an away game to bottom club Cologne, followed by a home game against Hertha Berlin, another struggling team, down in 15th and with just one draw to show for the last six games. Peter Bosz’s team should recover from this setback and improve on its current position of sixth place over the next couple of weeks.

 

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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 3:57 PM (278 days ago)            #7
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Champions League: Bayern Join Exclusive Club but Spurs’ Best Is yet to Come

Bayern Munich 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur

A night when the Champions League pressure was off – and it showed, to an extent.

After successive domestic defeats, Bayern Munich probably needed this result more than Spurs and the hosts deserved their success against last year’s finalists.

Yet with both sides already qualified for the knockout stages and unable to trade positions in Group B, it would be foolish to read too much into this result.

All I would say is study the SBOBET Champions League 2019 betting odds carefully after the draw is made next Monday and take a punt on one or both of these clubs to progress further.

I have a sneaking suspicion both will do well.

 

Highlights of the game

Both teams rested key men here, including star strikers Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski, who is just one goal short of Karim Benzema for fourth place in the competition’s all-time scoring chart.

There was still plenty of firepower on show, though, and Benjamin Pavard saw a fine volley blocked just. Serge Gnabry then played a ball across the face of goal and Kingsley Coman steered in the opener.

That was in the 14th minute, but Spurs did not want for motivation after last time out against Bayern – the first time they had conceded seven goals at home in their 137-year history – and were level within six minutes.

Giovani Lo Celso picked out Ryan Sessegnon, who thrashed a shot beyond Manuel Neuer at the near post.

Injury forced Coman off but Bayern pressed on and regained the lead on the stroke of half-time. Thomas Müller, who replaced Coman, stabbed home from close range after Alphonso Davies’ shot hit a post and ricocheted kindly.

They think a lot of Davies in these parts.

They also think a lot of on-loan Philippe Coutinho, and he settled the contest just before the midway point in the second period. The Brazilian stepped inside a challenge on the edge of the area and bent a peerless shot beyond the grasp of Paulo Gazzaniga for one of the group stage Champions League 2019 highlights.

The goal confirmed Bayern as only the seventh team to win all six games in a Champions League group stage.

While the result was not in doubt, Spurs boss Jose Mourinho – who saw his side gain their first clean sheet under his stewardship just days before travelling to Germany – will likely not be too disappointed and will have gained an insight into which of his fringe and young squad players may be destined for better things.

Although few made the most of a rare outing, Spurs were never going to collapse defensively as they had in October. They should be a much tougher proposition when the competition resumes in February.

There again, beware Bayern too!

 

Key statistics

Muller scored his 28th Champions League goal at the Allianz Arena – only four players have ever scored more at a single venue in the competition (Lionel Messi at the Nou Camp and Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul and Benzema at the Bernabeu).

Sessegnon is the third-youngest player to score a Champions League goal under Mourinho, after Carlos Alberto (19 years, 167 days) and Mario Balotelli (18 years, 84 days).

Tottenham youngster Ryan Sessegnon hits an equaliser during their Champions League clash against Bayern Munich
Tottenham Hotspur's Ryan Sessegnon in action against Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng in the Champions League

He has also become the 13th different English teenager to score a Champions League goal, two more than any other nation net in the competition (France, 11).

Bayern became just the second club to win all six of their group games in a single Champions League campaign (in the competition's current format, since 2003-04) after Real Madrid, who have done so twice (in 2011-12 and 2014-15).

By collecting maximum points (18) and a goal difference of +19, Bayern became the best group winner in the history of the competition.

This was Bayern’s 23rd Champions League group campaign, fewer only than Barcelona and Real Madrid (both 24). They have now won their section 16 times.

Bayern have won 17 of their last 18 home group-stage matches (drawn one) and are unbeaten in Munich since a 3-2 home loss against Manchester City on Matchday 6 in December 2013.

Tottenham’s record in Germany is won five, drawn two, lost seven; they have lost only twice in their last seven visits (won three, drawn twice).

Mourinho has never beaten Bayern in Munich, while the Reds have not lost a Champions League group game on home turf in six years, winning 26 of 33 fixtures at the Allianz Arena in the competition since then.



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What’s next?

Bayern now try and rekindle their Bundesliga title defence with three important games in a week.

They host Werder Bremen on Saturday (December 14), travel to Freiburg four days later and then host Wolfsburg before the league closes down for a near-month winter break.

Spurs have big ones themselves before Christmas.

They are at Wolves on Sunday (December 15) before Mourinho welcomes former club Chelsea to north London on December 22.

 

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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 4:00 PM (278 days ago)            #8
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Champions League: Real’s Samba Boys Shine in Win at Brugge

Club Brugge 1-3 Real Madrid

Real Madrid had nothing left to play for in their final Champions League Group A match. They had already secured passage through to the Round of 16 as the group's second-placed team behind Paris Saint-Germain.

As a result, Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane made several changes to his side and gave some players in his squad a run-out against Club Brugge. That included the young Brazilian duo of Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr., who both got the start upfront.

But despite fielding a somewhat weakened squad, the Champions League 2019 betting odds still had Madrid heavily favoured to beat Brugge. And they did just that thanks to their two Samba boys, who helped make sure there was no repeat of Madrid's slip-up at the Bernabeu against the Belgians.

 

Highlights of the game

The first real chance of the match fell to Madrid. Luka Modric's corner found Eder Militao, who rose high for a header. But the Brazilian centre-back was unable to get it on target.

Just a couple of minutes later, Brugge very nearly took the lead. Percy Tau directed a deflected cross toward goal, but Real keeper Alphonse Areola produced a fine reaction save to deny the Belgians. Meanwhile, the follow-up effort from Eder Balanta went wide.

Brugge keeper Simon Mignolet was then called into action on 14 minutes. Luka Jovic had a glorious opportunity to open his Champions League account, but the young Serb was thwarted by a good save by the former Liverpool keeper.

Real had another great chance to take the lead on 33 minutes through Isco. The Spanish midfielder did well to create space at the edge of the box, but his shot went agonisingly wide.

The match remained scoreless heading into half-time. But the visitors finally broke the deadlock seven minutes after the break. Right-back Alvaro Odriozola's cross found Rodrygo, who uncorked a sensational volley with the outside of his left foot.

The 18-year-old Brazilian made headlines with his memorable hat-trick against Galatasaray and his outstanding strike is another worthy addition to his growing collection of Champions League 2019 highlights.

However, Brugge hit back immediately. Some sloppy play at the back from Madrid gave the home side the opening they needed. Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis, who scored a brace in Brugge's surprise 2-2 draw against Madrid at the Bernabeu, was the provider for their equaliser.

Club Brugge bow out of the Champions League after falling to Real Madrid
Hans Vanaken scores the lone goal against Real Madrid

He shrugged off a challenge from Rodrygo and laid the ball off to Hans Vanaken, who produced a brilliant curling effort which gave Areola no chance.

But Brugge would be pegged back once again just after the hour mark, this time courtesy of Madrid's other prized Brazilian teen, Vinicius Jr. The pacey winger was quick to react to a loose ball in the six-yard box as he poked it past Mignolet.

Brugge had one last chance to snatch a late equaliser, which fell to Bonaventure. The Nigerian cut inside from the left-wing and curled in a shot on his right foot, but it whistled just wide of Areola's goal.

And just a few moments later, Luka Modric showed Bonaventure and Brugge how it's done as he fired home Madrid's third goal in stoppage time to seal the win.

 

Key statistics

As expected, Real Madrid dominated possession, 57 per cent to 43. They also edged out the home side in terms of shots (11-8) and shots on target (5-2).

Rodrygo and Vinicius both ended up with two goals apiece. Bonaventure was the busiest attacker for Brugge with three shots, although none ended up on target.

Meanwhile, Modric's goal was the 307th of this year's Champions League group stage, which set an all-time record.

 

What's next?

Real still need to wait Monday to find out their round of 16 opponents. As group runners-up, their five possible opponents -- Bayern Munich, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, or RB Leipzig -- are all quite daunting.

But before all that, Real will first need to turn their attention to La Liga, where they are level on points with Barcelona at the top of the table. After paying a visit to the Mestalla to face Valencia, they will head to the Camp Nou to play Barca in the first Clasico of the season. Don't forget to check out the SBOBET odds for that much-anticipated match once they're up!

As for Club Brugge, they will find themselves in the Europa League next year after finishing third in Group A.

 

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17-Dec 2019 Tuesday 5:11 PM (278 days ago)            #9
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Champions League Excitement Awaits Us All Next Spring!

As Champion League draws go, there was always going to be great excitement given the calibre of the sides to have reached the knockout stages.

But the 2019/2020 last 16 draw has thrown up a positive treat for football fans as the top clubs in Europe size each other up and aim to produce spring Champions League highlights.

Among a number of stand-out ties is the meeting between 13-time European champions Real Madrid and English champions Manchester City.

This past week has produced the best and most vulnerable of City.

They were magnificent against albeit a limited Arsenal yesterday, showcasing why, on their day, they remain the best team in the country.

Eight days earlier, their fragilities were exposed by a rampant Manchester United team which banished, however briefly, its inconsistency.

If the likes of Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane and, most importantly of all, Aymeric Laporte have returned from injury by then, City will start the tie as favourites.

The SBOBET Champions League betting odds back that up too.

There is the ghost of 2016 to contend with though. That remains the closest City have ever come to reaching a Champions League Final – something which has long been an aim of Sheikh Mansour since the billionaire’s takeover of the club in 2008.

That year, Real edged them out in the semi-finals and City will surely relish taking on a side without the genius of Cristiano Ronaldo and with former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola no doubt keen to put one over his old adversaries.

The first leg will take place at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in what will be the third time Guardiola has met Los Merengues at Europe’s top table.

As Barca coach, he was victorious in the 2011 semi-final, which was memorable for a lot of the wrong reasons due to the unedifying behaviour of players on both sides, yet in his second knockout tie against Madrid with Bayern Munich, he was on the receiving end of a 5-0 hammering.

A lot can change, of course, between now and February when the first leg takes place and Madrid are slowly proving a few of their doubters wrong and currently joint top of La Liga.

While that is the stand-out tie, a number of others are close behind.

Chelsea v Bayern Munich is a repeat of the 2012 final when the west Londoners won their sole Champions League crown on Munich soil.

Chelsea may not have the calibre of senior players they had seven years ago but they will certainly test a Munich side which has not had its own way this term to date, including the sacking of manager Niko Kovac.

They are currently six points off the pace in the Bundesliga, yet I still expect them to retain their domestic title and they are my dark horses for the Champions League crown too.

The big screen shows the Champions League round of 16 draw Final results
General view of the big screen showing the results of the draw

Munich romped to the knockout stages by winning all six group matches and it will be interesting to see if interim coach Hansi Flick is still in charge come next spring.

Their German counterparts Borussia Dortmund’s reward for coming through a tough group that included Barcelona and Inter Milan is a meeting with French champions Paris St Germain - whose head coach Thomas Tuchel was in charge of Dortmund from 2015-2017.

RB Leipzig also topped their group and their first ever Champions League knockout clash will be against last year’s defeated finalists Tottenham Hotspur, given new impetus under the management of Jose Mourinho, twice a winner of the competition.

Another intriguing tie involving an English club will see holders Liverpool meet Atletico Madrid, beaten finalists in 2014 and 2016.

The Merseysiders start as favourites against a team weakened by key departures this summer including Antoine Griezmann, Diego Godin, Lucas Hernandez and Rodri.

Yet any side managed by Diego Simeone will be no pushovers.

Elsewhere, a Carlo Ancelotti-less Napoli meet Barcelona. The veteran coach was last week dismissed for issues not entirely related to his team's performances on the pitch and they have regularly punched above their weight with him at the helm.

For Ernesto Valverde, whilst on paper the draw is kind, there is an acute awareness that Barcelona suffered a disastrous result when they faced AS Roma in the knockout phase in 2018 and the Spanish coach can’t afford a repeat in Naples.

Two of the success stories against the odds meet each other with Atalanta hosting Valencia, while Ronaldo and Juventus will head to Lyon aiming to go further than last season when they were beaten at this stage.

The ‘old lady’ have played Lyon four times in the Champions League and are unbeaten against the Ligue 1 club, winning three and drawing once.

Roll on next spring!

 

 

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16-Jan 2020 Thursday 4:29 PM (248 days ago)            #10
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Champions League: Valverde, Domestic Battles and Liverpool’s Edge

After a short winter break, the Champions League excitement is beginning to rise once again as the high-intensity Round of 16 is just a month away.

Europe’s finest teams and some of the world’s best players will come face to face as we approach the business end of the competition, and one club has already made a bold, or some might say even a shock, move.

 

Barca sack Valverde

I’m not sure how many fans and pundits saw this one coming but Ernesto Valverde has been sacked by Barcelona upon returning from the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia. The timing seems odd with the Blaugrana top of La Liga, and his replacement Quique Setien isn’t exactly a big name in Europe’s highest echelons.

It’s the first time in 17 years the Catalans have sacked a head coach mid-season, and Valverde must be wondering what he’s done wrong after winning La Liga in both his full seasons in charge.

There have been lingering doubts over his ability to succeed in European competition, but to replace him with former Real Betis boss Setien has had Barca supporters scratching their heads.

The 61-year-old was linked with Premier League strugglers Watford, while Barca had been courting Xavi. In fact, Setien has been rumoured to have been Barcelona’s fourth choice.



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But he will be in charge for the Blaugrana’s Round of 1 tie against Napoli. The Italians are no pushovers and those fans who booed Valverde during Barca’s Supercopa defeat to Atletico Madrid will hope they haven’t persuaded the board to drop a clanger!

While the sacking of Valverde has dominated the week’s Champions League 2020 news the runners and riders have been battling for dominance in their domestic leagues.

 

Liverpool’s advantage

The Premier League stands out in European football as the one competition which can pretty much pick its winner now. Okay, PSG are looking good to win Ligue 1 with a five-point advantage over Marseille, but that’s nothing compared to Liverpool’s 14-point lead over Manchester City (with a game in hand).

Serie A is a fierce two-horse race between Juventus and Inter Milan, though Lazio are coming up on the rails, and La Liga is a fight between Barca and Real Madrid.

The Bundesliga is more competitive than it’s been for years. RB Leipzig, who have a winnable Champions League tie against Spurs, are top and four points ahead of third-placed FC Bayern, and six ahead of Borussia Dortmund.

All this means that reigning European champions Liverpool might just have an advantage. The league is in their grasp after a record-breaking start, no team in any of Europe’s major leagues has ever bettered the Reds’ 20 wins and a draw. That incredible form and momentum could carry the Reds through Europe.

Jurgen Klopp’s team left it a little late to confirm qualification but the Reds held their nerves to win a tricky tie in Salzburg, beating Red Bull 0-2.

And for the first time during this campaign, the Champions League 2020 betting odds have installed Liverpool as the clear favourites at odds of 4.70, but it’s a tight market. The SBOBET Champions League team, we writers and the statisticians, are divided on the outcome of course!

Both Barcelona and Manchester City are at odds of 5.00, with Juventus at 7.00, Paris Saint Germain at 7.80 and FC Bayern at 8.50.

 

Tie of the Round

You can make a case for any of those six (I fancy Manchester City), as well as Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid, available at 18.00. But they need to get past Pep Guardiola’s Sky Blues first.

Manchester City are gearing up for the Round of 16 of the Champions League
Riyad Mahrez celebrates scoring Manchester City's second goal against Aston Villa

When the draw for the knockout phase came out of the hat, Real Madrid against Manchester City was the one which caught the eye. The Manchester club are at 1.48 to beat Los Blancos over two legs with Zinedine Zidane’s Spaniards at 2.72.

The Sky Blues are in devastating form at the moment, destroying Aston Villa 1-6 at the weekend and, before that, blowing Manchester United away in the first half of the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.

With the Premier League all but lost, the Champions League has become Guardiola’s main priority.

But ZZ’s team is in confident mood, having just won the Spanish Super Cup and keeping pace with Barcelona at the top of La Liga.

 

Round of 16 Draw in full

Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool

Borussia Dortmund vs Paris Saint Germain

Tottenham Hotspur vs RB Leipzig

Atalanta vs Valencia

Chelsea vs FC Bayern

Napoli vs Barcelona

Real Madrid vs Manchester City

Lyon vs Juventus

 

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05-Feb 2020 Wednesday 1:17 PM (228 days ago)            #11
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Champions League: Dangerous Dortmund, Cavani Drama, Barca’s Striker Search

The Champions League knockout round still won't begin for another few weeks, but recent developments around the top European sides are making those round-of-16 ties all the more intriguing.

For one, Borussia Dortmund are looking a lot more dangerous after Erling Braut Haaland's brilliant display on his Bundesliga debut.

Meanwhile, their opponents Paris Saint-Germain are in the middle of a big transfer saga, with Edinson Cavani wanting out and possibly landing on another Champions League contender.

And if that isn't enough striker news, Barcelona are reportedly planning to add another attacking option with Luis Suarez set to miss their round-of-16 matchup against Napoli.

So with less than a month to go before the start of the knockout round, let's take a closer look at three big news stories concerning the Champions League and how they figure to affect the different ties.

 

Haaland addition makes Dortmund more dangerous

It certainly didn't take long for Erling Braut Haaland to make his mark at Borussia Dortmund. The 19-year-old burst onto the scene by scoring a hat-trick in Dortmund's come-from-behind win over Augsburg.

SBOBET odds currently have Dortmund priced at 55.00 to win the Champions League, but Haaland's addition has made them a much more appealing dark horse contender.

With Haaland, Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus, and Thorgan Hazard, Dortmund suddenly have one of the more dangerous attacking units in the tournament.

Haaland has already proven this season what he is capable of in the competition. He also scored a hat-trick on his Champions League debut against Genk and netted eight times in six group-stage appearances as Red Bull Salzburg just barely missed out on the last 16.

The teenager is clearly not fazed by the big stage and will relish the chance to lead the line against PSG. Paris manager -- and former Dortmund boss -- Thomas Tuchel will certainly have his hands full trying to keep Haaland from producing some Champions League 2020 highlights at his team's expense.

 

Cavani wants PSG exit, linked with Atletico, England clubs

Speaking of PSG, they have some transfer drama to take care of at the moment. That's because Edinson Cavani, the club's all-time top goalscorer, has made it clear he wants out of Paris.

Cavani has lost his regular place in the side as Tuchel has gone in favour of playing the "Fantastic Four" -- Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Mauro Icardi, and Angel Di Maria -- in attack.

It will be hard for PSG in the Champions League if they sell their main striker, Edinson Cavani
Edinson Cavani reacts after their Ligue one clash against Toulouse

There is no shortage of suitors for Cavani's services. Atletico Madrid have been strongly linked, while a number of English clubs -- Chelsea, Tottenham, and Manchester United -- have also been mentioned as potential destinations.

But when asked about Cavani's future in France, Tuchel said he is all for the Uruguayan staying.

“I always said I like this squad. We do not want to lose any player during the transfer window. Today, Edinson is my player. I am glad it is the case. If that changes, we will adapt.”

Cavani has scored just five goals in 14 appearances this season amid some injury problems. Nonetheless, the 33-year-old still has something left to offer and has the ability to make an impact if he does arrive at Atletico, Chelsea, or Tottenham, especially with Harry Kane out injured.

 

Striker-needy Barcelona linked with Rodrigo, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Barcelona also have a striker injury to deal with as Luis Suarez will miss four months due to knee surgery. That means the Uruguayan will miss both legs against Napoli, leaving new Barca manager Quique Setien -- who took over for the sacked Ernesto Valverde -- short of options.

As a result, Barca plan to bring in another striker during the transfer window. Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Valencia's Rodrigo Moreno are two names that have been linked with the Catalans.

Aubameyang has had a fine season at Arsenal, scoring 16 goals in 26 appearances. Meanwhile, Rodrigo has just two goals in 17 La Liga appearances, with two more in the Champions League. Although, one of those goals sent Valencia to the round of 16.

But despite Rodrigo's lack of goal production, Valencia are unlikely to let him go, especially since they have a legitimate shot to defeat Atalanta and progress to the quarter-finals.

Landing another top striker like Aubameyang would certainly help improve Barcelona's Champions League 2020 odds. But even if they don't get an Aubameyang or Rodrigo, Barcelona should still be a strong bet to get past a struggling Napoli side. Messi can play in a false nine role if needed, while Antoine Griezmann is obviously capable of leading the line.

 

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05-Feb 2020 Wednesday 1:21 PM (228 days ago)            #12
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Champions League Means Success To City

The 2020 Champions League Round of 16 is upon us with two mouth-watering ties to get us underway on 18th February.

Borussia Dortmund host Paris Saint Germain, and reigning champions Liverpool visit Atletico Madrid, how’s that for starters? But the last match of the first round is the real blockbuster. When the draw was made, the big Champions League 2020 news was Real Madrid’s clash with Manchester City, two titans of the European game.

But there’s one big difference, and it’s a difference Manchester United fans will quite like. Los Blancos have won the most Champions Leagues of anyone, 13, and six ahead of Milan. Meanwhile, Manchester City are yet to trouble the scorers and the expensively assembled squad is under pressure to deliver this season.

Unbelievably it seems that head coach Pep Guardiola, for once, doesn’t have all the answers. He has won five major trophies since arriving at the Etihad in 2016, but his team is yet to succeed in Europe. Indeed, the Sky Blues have failed to make the semi-finals of the Champions League under Guardiola, having been dumped out of the competition by Liverpool, Monaco and Spurs.

 


 

 

And, after defeat to Spurs at the weekend, during the after-match post mortem, his players allegedly asked him to stop tinkering. Guardiola has not fielded the same starting eleven for back-to-back matches since the start of the campaign, and since Mikel Arteta left for Arsenal, he seems unsettled on a formation.

The former Barca and Bayern boss is a genius, and his experimenting is clearly designed to hand him the perfect formula against Los Blancos, and the latest SBOBET odds have Manchester City at 1.50 to qualify for the quarter-finals with Real Madrid at 2.66.

Los Blancos are at 19.00 to win the tournament, but they have a tough defence to break down, conceding just 13 in La Liga this season, and a striker in form in Karim Benzema. They lead the Spanish league at the moment and, if they beat City, I suspect their odds will drop to around 6.00.

 

Champions have a big advantage

When Liverpool rock up in Madrid they will do so with huge confidence, though no complacency. The Reds have a tangible edge over their European rivals in that they have their domestic league wrapped up, already 22 points clear of Manchester City, and now Jurgen Klopp’s side are clear favourites at odds of 3.50 to retain their European title.

They have been relentless in the league, dropping just two points, which is the best record of any European top-flight club at this stage of the season. Their opponents, Atletico, are not faring so well, down in sixth place in La Liga and 13 points behind Real. Los Rojiblancos lost their main goal threat in Antoine Griezmann and replacement Joao Felix is yet to fill his shooting boots.

Champions League: Cristiano Ronaldo already scored 9 consecutive goals in Serie A
Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring against Fiorentina

Big Guns ready to fire

Take a look at the latest Champions League 2020 betting odds and you have to say this year’s competition is wide open. The giants of Germany, Italy and France are serious contenders with FC Bayern at 7.90, Juventus at 8.00 and PSG at 8.60 to lift the title.

The Bundesliga has been contested by up to six teams so far, which is now down to four, and Bayern have risen to the top in preparation for the run-in. Similarly, Juventus are beginning to click through the gears at the top of Serie A, though a recent defeat to Napoli has kept the Old Lady on her toes. Cristiano Ronaldo has been in scintillating form, in Italy and in Europe, his goals propelling I Bianconeri to the top of qualifying Group D by a clear six points. And his two goals in last weekend’s 3-0 win over Fiorentina stretched his scoring run to nine league games, equalling David Trezeguet’s record.

Champions League: Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho is playing great at Borussia Dortmund with Erling Braut Haaland
Jadon Sancho scores his 25th goal for Borussia Dortmund during their match vs Union Berlin

Dangerous Dortmund

PSG probably have one of the most difficult tests in the Round of 16 when they take on Borussia Dortmund. Much like Manchester City the French billionaires are yet to break through the European glass ceiling. And their opponents have a combination of youth and experience which is oozing with class.

BVB’s teenage duo of Jadon Sancho and Erling Braut Haaland are making history in the German league. Sancho’s goal in the 5-0 destruction of Union Berlin made the England star the first teenager to score 25 Bundesliga goals. Meanwhile, new recruit Haaland is the first player to score seven goals in his opening three Bundesliga games.

The Norway international is a beast of a player, and one which will give the PSG defence a night they won’t forget.

Add to those two the experience of the excellent Marco Reus and you have an impressive attacking threat.

 

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13-Feb 2020 Thursday 2:16 PM (220 days ago)            #13
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Champions League: Liverpool’s Repeat Bid, Guardiola Unfazed, Mbappe Aiming High

The Champions League is about to start in less than a week, and the final 16 teams are gearing up for the much-awaited European showcase.

Liverpool’s repeat bid will be easier said than done since the playing field looks to be tougher according to our Champions League 2020 odds as pointed out by my fellow writer in his previous post.

Other teams such as Dortmund, PSG, and Barcelona were very active in the transfer market in an attempt to reinforce their respective teams, while underrated teams such as RB Leipzig, Valencia, PSG, and Atalanta will look to make some noise.

Without further ado, SBOBET gives you a quick preview of what’s ahead.

 

Liverpool securing their big guns

The defending titlists in the Champions League are on the verge of making history in the Premier League as they’ve been undefeated for quite some time now.

Of course, their success story is due to the fact that Jurgen Klopp’s wards are stepping up to the challenge while playing under a great system.

With so many teams trying to break up the Reds, Liverpool will be prioritising maintaining their key cogs in order to prolong their team success.

Star defender Virgil Van Dijk has been reportedly offered a five-year extension to secure his future with Liverpool. The Netherlands international has been the fulcrum for the Reds on defence and at the attack and he was a lead candidate for last year’s Ballon d’Or award.

Another integral piece that needs to be kept is their midfielder in Roberto Firmino. Firmino was reportedly linked to Bayern Munich, which doesn’t appear to be a suitable destination for him since they already have the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry to spearhead their attack.

With Gini Wijnaldum’s contract talks with the Reds having reached an impasse, another name that has been floating around is their former player in Philippe Coutinho, but there aren’t any imminent developments yet as of this moment.

Liverpool will be one of the heavy favourites to make a deep run in the Champions League, and only a handful of teams are uniquely qualified to stop them.

 

Pep Guardiola takes things into perspective

Despite having won five major trophies since arriving at the Etihad in 2016, Pep Guardiola has yet to find success in Europe.

Manchester City had some bad luck over these past few Champions League campaigns as they failed to make it past the quarterfinals, having been dumped out by Liverpool, Monaco, and Tottenham.

This time around, his Sky Blues will get to face the resurgent Los Blancos in the first knockout phase, but the former Barca boss isn’t fazed whatsoever at the possibilities if ever they get eliminated early.

“I accept the challenge. I want to win the Champions League. I dream and will enjoy the games against Real Madrid to see what I can do,” said Guardiola in a recent interview.

“If we don’t beat them, then (people) will come and say ‘It’s not good enough, we want the Champions League. I’m going to sack you.’ Then I’ll say, ‘Ok thank you, it was a pleasure.’” he added.

Manchester City’s recent form has been lacklustre to say the least. They are fresh off losses from Tottenham and Manchester United both in the Premier League and in the Football League Cup while they struggled against Sheffield United and Crystal Palace.

Like City, Real Madrid also have some issues at the backline. And if the likes of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, and Riyad Mahrez can take advantage of that, they are giving themselves a great chance to move on to the next round.

 

Kylian Mbappe has high hopes for PSG

Kylian Mbappe is set to spearhead PSG in the upcoming 2019/20 Champions League Round of 16
PSG's Kylian Mbappe in action during their League One match against Lyon

Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain have been in numerous transfer rumours lately, but their focus remains on trying to win their first-ever Champions League title.

“I would be proud to be able to obtain a first big European trophy for Paris, the Champions League, and to continue to win with our country – that’s my dream,” said Kylian Mbappe.

“They say dreams are inaccessible and at the moment, but I will try to accomplish this dream,” he emphasized.

Their chances of making a deep run in the Champions League seem to be slim, especially with Neymar out due to injuries. Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi are expected to carry the load.



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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

PSG will face a dangerous Borussia Dortmund squad who has been hitting their stride as of late. Since acquiring Erling Haaland last January, BVB have scored at least three goals in all of their games in the Bundesliga and in the DFB Pokal. The 19-year-old wunderkind is expected to do more of the same for Dortmund by producing some of the best Champions League 2020 highlights.

The Parisians won the UEFA Winners’ Cup in 1996 but they have yet to win in the Champions League or in the European Cup in their 49-year history. They failed to advance in the quarterfinals last year when they were booted out by Manchester United.

 

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25-Feb 2020 Tuesday 7:31 PM (208 days ago)            #14
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Champions League: PSG Know Now Is the Time

Borussia Dortmund vs Paris Saint-Germain

At a time when one story is dominating the football agenda – that of financial fair play and possible sanctions from European competition – the return of the Champions League is timely.

This tie, more than most of the last 16 fixtures, perfectly highlights the difference between the haves and the have-nots, yet also illustrates just how much pressure can be imposed upon those with major backers.

Here is one side which continues to punch above their weight domestically and in Europe; the other is underachieving on the wider stage and has also been widely linked with breaching fair play regulations themselves.

Based on their respective resources then, this should be an away banker. But as Champions League 2020 highlights from last season show, there are no givens in this competition – even when the odds are stacked in your favour.

 

Talking Points

Domestically, it’s a scenario known as deja vu for both these clubs.

Dortmund are faring well in the Bundesliga and even moved up to second for a time over the weekend after a convincing home win in which new signing Erling Braut Haaland scored again.

Yet are they going to end Bayern Munich’s domination of the title race this season?

Of course, they are not, according to this SBOBET observer. (RB Leipzig are in contention too).

On the other side of the coin, the Ligue 1 race is all but over for another season.

A huge lead in the table and one which highlights their newfound wealth – the amount of money which allowed them to sign Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in one summer and do so in a manner which overcame regulations.

 


 

 

Although he has not lived up to that mantra, at 25 Neymar was the presumptive next-best player in the world to his then-teammate Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

That PSG also then went out and signed Mbappe for the second-highest transfer fee ever, $203m, was mouth-watering.

At the time, Mbappe was just 19 and could claim the same number of Ligue 1 starts as years spent on this earth. If the move for Neymar was a massive exclamation point written in the sky for everyone to see, the Mbappe transfer was a bolt of lightning shot out of that same cloud.

Since the Qataris took over the club back in 2011, PSG have really only had one goal. Starting in 2012, they've won every Ligue 1 title except for that in the year before Neymar and Mbappe arrived. Domestic trophies have become a fait accompli.

As club chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi told The New York Times in 2016, "Our aim is to make the club an institution respected around the world. If we are going to make that happen, we have to win the Champions League."

That they have failed to do so is as big an underachievement as Manchester City’s failure to land Europe’s top prize since they were bought by mega-rich owners in 2008.

One suspects this year, they are more determined than ever after back-to-back last 16 exits to an understrength Manchester United and to Real Madrid which hurt Parisians like hell in what was the French side’s eighth successive Champions League campaign.

As if to emphasise the point, both star men were rested in PSG’s kamikaze draw with Amiens in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

Champions League: Paris Saint-Germain will face a tough match against Borussia Dortmund
Paris Saint-Germain players celebrate after scoring against Pau in the French Cup

This tie also represents a reunion with former employers for PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, who spent two years with Dortmund from 2015 to 2017, winning the German Cup in his second season.

PSG have the best defensive record in this season’s competition having conceded only twice, both goals against Madrid in the group stages.

They will face a Dortmund side who did well to emerge from a group which comprised Barcelona and Serie A leaders Inter Milan.

This is their 14th Champions League campaign; they were winners in 1997, and runners-up in 2013 – a record PSG have never got close to.

Yet, despite winning two of their three home games at the Signal Iduna Park in the group stages, Dortmund have won only five of their last 13 European home matches (drawn three, lost five).

The onus will be very much on their front men to take a lead to the French capital ahead of the second leg on March 11.

Die Schwarzgelben will be without the injured Marco Reus, but in Jadon Sancho - the only player in double figures for both goals and assists in one of Europe’s top five leagues per UEFA coefficient this season - and the hugely impressive Haaland, who netted his eighth goal in just five appearances in Friday’s 4-0 defeat of Eintracht Frankfurt, the Bundesliga title-chasers have their own potent weapons.

They will need them against the side I consider the favourites to win this year’s competition.

 

History

The only meetings between these two clubs came in this competition in the 2010/11 group stages. Both ended all square.

An 87th-minute goal from PSG substitute Clément Chantôme cancelled out Nuri Şahin’s penalty opener for Dortmund five minutes into the second half on Matchday 3. The game at the Parc des Princes two weeks later finished goalless.

Dortmund’s record in two-legged knockout ties against French clubs is won three, lost two. They won the first three and then lost the last two - most recently against Monaco in the 2017 Champions League quarter-finals (2-3 home, 1-3 away).

 

Betting Tip

??

Borussia Dortmund vs Paris Saint-Germain Total Goals 4-6 @ 2.20
February 19, 04:00 (GMT+8)

With such talent on show, I am following the array of Champions League 2020 betting odds and going for goals.

My tip is for Dortmund and PSG to combine for a total of 4-6 goals in their first-leg matchup.

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?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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25-Feb 2020 Tuesday 7:36 PM (208 days ago)            #15
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Champions League: Red’s Title Defence Continues In Madrid

Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool

Liverpool continue their Champions League title campaign on Tuesday with a trip to the Wanda Metropolitano to take on Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid.

The two sides come into the match in contrasting form; the Liverpool juggernaut surges onwards, while Los Rojiblancos have rather stuttered recently. But Atleti fought hard to get to the Round of 16, and home advantage should even things up, so we’re set for a cracker in Madrid on Tuesday night.

Jurgen Klopp’s team is at 1.33 with SBOBET to make it through to the last eight, with Los Rojiblancos at 3.32. A Liverpool win or a score draw will widen the gap, but if the hosts can get a positive result then we’ll have all to play for at Anfield.

 

Talking points

Liverpool’s trophy charge

The Reds have pretty much got the Premier League done and dusted. When they beat Manchester United the Liverpool fans celebrated like they had won their first domestic league title in three decades. They’ve bagged another handful of league wins since then and so the pressure has almost disappeared; the Liverpool players just want to get the job finished.

 


 

 

But they can already concentrate on cup matters with full focus and little or no conflict. With that in mind the latest Champions League 2020 betting odds have the Reds as low as 3.80 to win back-to-back European titles.

Klopp has a selection problem, but a nice one to have. His tried and tested front three of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have now been joined by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain since the England man returned from long term injury. And the Ox has played plenty of Champions League football, scoring three goals, with only Salah beating him at four.

Mane scored his 100th goal in English football in Liverpool’s 0-1 win over Norwich City at the weekend. With Manchester City set to play West Ham on Wednesday it was a win which took Klopp’s side 25 points clear at the top of the table. The Senegalese star started on the bench in the blustery conditions of Carrow Road and he will be pushing for a start, while Firmino just seems to be getting better and better (if that’s possible).

The Brazilian has three assists in the competition and he showed some outrageous skills in the wind and rain in Norwich.

Los Rojiblancos searching for form

Simeone has no such luxury, with striker Joao Felix sidelined with injury; his well organised side is struggling for wins.

Atleti have underperformed in La Liga this season but have showed serious character in the Champions League. Los Rojiblancos fought back to take a crucial point against Juventus at the group stage which helped them join I Bianconeri in the knockout phase.

Atletico Madrid is Steven Savic to lead them to victory as they host Liverpool in Champions League
Steven Savic in action during Atletico Madrid's match against Leganes

Los Rojiblancos won a hard earned point away to Valencia on Friday night, a result which kept them in fourth place, but they were ahead twice through Marcos Llorente and Thomas Partey and failed to hold on to their lead. That’s unusual for a team which has a hard earned reputation of one of Europe’s meanest defences. But the Madrid side has been missing wing back Kieran Trippier after the former Spurs man underwent groin surgery.

The key men at Atleti’s rearguard will be the former Fiorentina centre back Stefan Savic and keeper Jan Oblak, while creative forwards Vitolo and Saul Niguez will try to stretch the Reds’ backline.

 

History

The Madrid side have had the better of the head to heads having won three, drawn two and lost one of their last six meetings with Liverpool.

But recent form is a worry. Atleti come into the game with one win in six, while Liverpool have five wins and a draw. And it was Klopp’s kids who played out a 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury in the FA Cup, before dispatching the League One side back at Anfield.

Meanwhile Simeone’s side suffered the embarrassment of going out of the Copa del Rey to lower league Leonesa.

 

Betting Tip

??

Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool Atletico Madrid + 0.25 @ 1.96
February 19, 04:00 (GMT+8)

It will be major Champions League 2020 news if Atleti can somehow knock the champions out of this year’s competition and, to do that, they need a positive result at the Wanda Metropolitano.

The hosts are at 3.25 to win the first leg, with the draw at 3.20 and Liverpool are at odds of 2.24 to take a lead back to Anfield. The Reds are unbeaten in 14, but while Atleti are searching for winning form they are unbeaten in five games at home.

Norwich pushed Liverpool all the way on Saturday and, with all respect to the Canaries, they are no Atletico Madrid.

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25-Feb 2020 Tuesday 7:45 PM (208 days ago)            #16
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Champions League: Last Eight is the Prize for Spurs and Red Bulls

Tottenham Hotspur vs RB Leipzig

When you look at the other ties in the round of 16, the Champions League match between the Spurs and RB Leipzig may have gone under the radar for some. But while champions Liverpool take on Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night, let’s not forget that Spurs were beaten finalists in last season’s competition.

And RB Leipzig is one of the most ambitious clubs on the planet, so this has all the makings of a really entertaining battle.

At the moment neither of these two teams is talked about as a potential winner outside North London and Leipzig. Of the two, Spurs may have the better chance, the eighth favourite at odds of 21.00 to lift the European crown, while Leipzig are the tenth favourite at 36.00.

But then the latest Spurs vs RB Leipzig betting odds make the Bundesliga outfit slightly odds on to make it to the quarter-finals, at 1.87 to see off Jose Mourinho’s team, with Spurs at 2.07 to navigate this tie.

Head coach Julien Nagelsmann has guided RB Leipzig to second in the Bundesliga table, and they are genuine contenders, having earned a point away to FC Bayern recently.

 

Talking Points

Spurs on the march

Not every Spurs fan has been happy with their lot this season. Even since changing head coaches in November all has not been rosy in the garden. Jose started with a flurry of wins and then stuttered a little, but he seems to have steadied the ship once again.

Heung-Min Son’s last gasp winner against Aston Villa on Sunday took the Whites up to fifth in the Premier League, and within a point of Chelsea, before the Blues match with Manchester United on Monday night. And the win was their third in a row, while Spurs are seven unbeaten and have won their last four home matches.

Champions League: Can Son Heung-min add more goals to his tally?
Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min celebrates after scoring his side's third goal against Aston Villa

And they have done all that without top scorer and Captain Harry Kane. The England skipper bagged six goals at the Champions League group stage, while Son has scored five in this competition.

Spurs will also be without Moussa Sissoko, but reinforcements are stepping up. Giovanni Lo Celso made the difference for the Whites when he came on as a sub against Aston Villa, while new signing Steven Bergwijn scored in Spurs 2-0 victory over Manchester City.

The Red Bulls are flying too

If Spurs are on the march then they could meet a formidable match on Wednesday when Die Roten Bullen come to town. Nagelsmann’s side beat Werder Bremen 3-0 at the weekend and are now just a point off the top of their league.

Emil Forsberg and Timo Werner have three goals each in this competition, but Werner’s Bundesliga form has been prolific, he’s scored 20 league goals already and only Robert Lewandowski has more.

Forsberg is likely to start on the bench with Patrik Schick, on loan from Roma, in line for a start. And Spurs will need to look out for flying wingback Lukas Klostermann, who was on target against Bremen and will be a constant threat.

RB Leipzig will be without club captain Willi Orban and Ibrahima Konate, both with long term injuries.

 

History

Losing the Champions League final so feebly to Liverpool last season remained former boss Mauricio Pochettino’s biggest regret when he left the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in November.

RB Leipzig haven’t come so close to European glory and these two teams haven’t previously met, which is little surprise as the German club was only founded in 2009. Die Roten Bullen finished runners up in their first season in the top flight in 2017 and gained entry to the Champions League. No other side has risen through the ranks to reach Europe’s premier competition so quickly.

Recent form slightly favours the hosts. Spurs come into the game with four wins and two draws from the last six games, in all competitions, while RB Leipzig have won two, drawn two and lost two.

 

Betting Tip

??

Tottenham Hotspur vs RB Leipzig Tottenham Hotspur Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.09
February 20, 04:00 (GMT+8)

This first leg could go either way with the Spurs at 2.49 to take a lead to Germany, while RB Leipzig are at 2.77 and the draw is available at odds of 3.25.

The German side has a real threat going forward and Mourinho will set up to keep things tight at the back, but even without Kane, his own forwards have been in great form. They have the momentum and I think Spurs will have the edge.

And, of course, we’ll be back with all the latest Spurs vs RB Leipzig updates as they happen on Wednesday.

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25-Feb 2020 Tuesday 7:49 PM (208 days ago)            #17
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Champions League: Atalanta in the Spotlight at San Siro

Atalanta vs Valencia

It was hard to envision either Atalanta or Valencia making it to the Champions League knockout round given how they started the competition.

The Italians had just one point in their first four group matches, while the Spaniards found themselves behind last year's semi-finalists Ajax as well as Chelsea in the group. But both clubs were able to rally in time and picked up some big wins to make it through to the last 16.

Atalanta will come into the match at the San Siro in fine form having won three of their last four in Serie A. Meanwhile, Valencia have gone winless in their last three and find themselves way down in seventh in the La Liga table.

 

Talking Points

The Atalanta scoring machine

After a rough start to their debut campaign, Atalanta's prolific attack finally woke up in their last two games to produce some Champions League 2020 highlights. They handled Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 at home and won 3-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk to secure qualification as the second-place team behind Manchester City.

Atalanta have been scoring goals for fun in Serie A all season. They have 63 goals in 24 games, by far the most in the league (Lazio are second at 55). They recorded back-to-back 5-0 wins at home against AC Milan and Parma and also thrashed Torino 7-0 away last month. That was their second seven-goal game this year after a 7-1 win over Udinese.

After a surprise 2-2 draw at home against Genoa, they've bounced back with consecutive 2-1 wins at Fiorentina and against Roma.

It speaks to Atalanta's sheer depth of attacking quality that their last six goals have been scored by six different players. Josip Ilicic is having a sensational season and is leading the way with 14 goals. Luis Muriel is second with 13, while last season's top scorer Duvan Zapata has chipped in with 9.

But it doesn't stop with those three, as Robin Gosens, Papu Gomez, and Mario Pasalic have also provided 8, 7, and 7 goals, respectively.

Champions League: Duvan Zapata is aiming to challenge Valencia as they clash at San Siro
Duvan Zapata celebrates with Atalanta after scoring against Napoli

Atalanta have won five of their last seven games at home, but they don't have a great home record overall. They've already lost five times at home this season, with the latest one coming against second-from-bottom SPAL last month.

Valencia's away woes

Not only did Valencia qualify from the so-called "Group of Death" in this year's Champions League, they also won it. They topped the group after a stunning 1-0 win at Ajax in their final game. They also defied the Champions League 2020 betting odds by beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, although they were significantly outplayed in that match.

Curiously, Valencia's away form this season in La Liga has been nowhere near as good. In fact, they  were recently on the receiving end of a couple of three-goal defeats against relegation-threatened Mallorca (4-1) and surprise package Getafe (3-0). They were also knocked out of the Copa del Rey after a 2-1 defeat away to Granada.

A major factor in Valencia's struggles this season has been the decline of their defence. Once one of the top defences in Spain, they are now at the bottom half of the table, conceding 34 goals already in 24 games. More worryingly, 23 of those goals have come away from home.

At home, Valencia have shown they are still capable of competing with the big sides. They came from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Atletico Madrid over the weekend. They also drew 1-1 with Real Madrid back in December and beat Barcelona 2-0 last month, handing Quique Setien his first defeat as Barca boss.

But it remains to be seen whether Albert Celades' side can continue to produce those types of results away from the Mestalla.

Centre-back Gabriel Paulista, who scored against Atleti, also picked up a serious-looking ankle injury, although he was already suspended for the first leg. And with their other regular centre-back Ezequiel Garay out for the season with a knee injury, Mouctar Diakhaby will likely partner Eliaquim Mangala in the centre of defence.

 

History

This will be the very first time Atalanta and Valencia will meet in a UEFA competition match.

Valencia are in the Champions League round of 16 for the first time since the 2012/13 season. They are 2-4 in two-legged ties against Italian opposition.

Valencia lost the 2001 Champions League final at the San Siro, the venue for the first leg. The Spaniards have yet to win at the famous stadium against Italian opposition (three draws, one loss)

 

Betting Tip

??

Atalanta vs Valencia Atalanta 1X2 @ 1.77
February 20, 04:00 (GMT+8)

SBOBET odds have Atalanta priced as 1.79 favourites despite the fact that they won't be technically be at home at the San Siro. Valencia are 3.90 to score a first-round upset, while a draw is 3.95.

There's just a lot to like about Atalanta. They just have too much firepower in attack, and Valencia's makeshift backline doesn't appear equipped to handle it.

The Spaniards will do their best to limit the damage, but I fully expect Atalanta to win and take a lead back to the Mestalla for the second leg.

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25-Feb 2020 Tuesday 7:52 PM (208 days ago)            #18
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Champions League: Man City Slapped With Ban, Chelsea, PSG Welcome Key Additions


Over these past few days, the teams who will be playing the Final 16 of the  Champions League have been involved in various developments – whether for good or for worse. Manchester City quickly come into mind as they were on the wrong end of the Champions League 2020 news when they were meted atwo-year ban by the UEFA Committee few days ago. Elsewhere, Liverpool turn their attention in the European showcase since a Premier League title is already in the bag. The defending titlists will lock horns against Atletico Madrid tomorrow, who are yet to find their peak form. Borussia Dortmund and PSG will also kick off the festivities tomorrow and football fans can check out the preview of the said matchhere for some useful betting tips. For now, allow SBOBET to provide you some more updates with our news roundup.



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Manchester City undergoing a huge crisis The run of bad luck continues at the Etihad when Manchester City were slapped a two-year competition ban in the Champions League by the UEFA Committee due to FFP violations. City were found guilty of overstating their club sponsorship revenues after a thorough investigation on their books, which was sparked by Der Spiegel’s 2018 report regarding “leaked” emails and documents involving the team owners. The said “leaked” emails and documents indicated that team owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan was declared to have shelled out £67.5-M in annual sponsorship for City’s shirt, stadium, and academy via the Etihad. However, the emails suggested that only £8-M of that sponsorship in 2016 was funded by Etihad and the rest came from the Abu Dhabi United Group. While City have already filed an appeal regarding this announcement, there has been much speculation of the future of Pep Guardiola and his key players, with a number of rival teams looking to poach them all. However, Guardiola reiterated his commitment with the team saying that they should stick together amidst this crisis. “Whatever league we are in, I will still be here. Even if they put us in League Two, I will still be here. This is a time for sticking together,” said Guardiola. Manchester City are slated to face Real Madrid in their knockout matchup on Thursday in what is expected to be a high-scoring showdown. Neymar expected to be back PSG are about to get a huge boost in their Champions League 2020 odds as they welcome Neymar back into their lineup after having missed their past four matches due to a rib injury. Of course, this is great news for head coach Thomas Tuchel ashis squad is aiming high after enduring a three-year winless run in the tournament’s last 16 knockout phase. “When you go out in the last 16 three times and then you’re back there again, it’s clear that it’s not a simple situation. But every year writes its own story. You need defeat in order to grow and develop yourself,” shared Tuchel in a recent press conference. “If we have Neymar on the field, we have the self-confidence,” he added. Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi have been carrying the load for the most part during Neymar’s absence. They are two of the club’s leading scorers with 20 and 16 goals respectively. But adding a healthy Neymar would be a boon for the squad since he’s contributed 14 goals and eight assists already this season, and that should make them one of the dark horses in this tournament.

Paris Saint-Germain welcome ace Neymar into their Champions League line-up after rib injury

Neymar celebrates after scoring Paris Saint-Germain’s second goal during French League One match against Lille at Lille Metropole stadium

They will, however, face a dangerous Dortmund club who has been hitting their stride as of late. BVB recently notched a dominating 4-0 victory against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga. Erling Haaland will make his Champions League debut for the Yellows tomorrow to spearhead their offence. The 19-year-old sensation has already scored nine goals in six games in all competitions for Dortmund. Chelsea boost their midfield depth Chelsea have bolstered their midfield depth bysigning Hakim Ziyech from Ajax effective this summer. The Moroccan international has been coveted by team manager Frank Lampard as he is an adept playmaker and a set-piece specialist. He has been a prolific scorer throughout his pro career, as he scored 100 goals for his club and his country. It can be remembered that Ziyech contributed three goals for Ajax in their 4-4 draw against Chelsea during their Champions League game last November, which included a wonderful corner kick that breezed past Chelsea goal keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. He is expected to play a huge role for the Blues moving forward as a creative spark given that Ziyech has provided 421 attacking opportunities for Ajax since joining them in 2016. Since 2018, he has also recorded more assists than Lionel Messi in the Champions League. Only Riyad Mahrez and Kylian Mbappe are ahead of him in that regard.

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25-Feb 2020 Tuesday 7:55 PM (208 days ago)            #19
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Champions League: Liverpool Lose in Madrid

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Liverpool

Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid put in one of their characteristically gritty displays tonight to stop the Liverpool juggernaut and take a 1-0 first-leg lead to Anfield.

It was the Reds' first appearance at the Wanda Metropolitano since that famous night last June when they lifted the Champions League trophy. But, after Saul Niguez had given Los Rojiblancs an early lead, they rarely threatened to break down the hosts, failing to get a crucial away goal.

Manchester United’s Premier League win over Chelsea last night means that Liverpool have already qualified for next season’s Champions League. But Jurgen Klopp said the Reds’ league form would be irrelevant in terms of their European campaign, and specifically this tie against Atletico Madrid.

And he was right!

 

Highlights of the game

Saul Niguez leads Atletico Madrid past Liverpool 1-0 in Champions League Round of 16 first leg
Saul celebrates after scoring Atletico Madrid's first goal during Champions League Round of 16 first leg match against Liverpool

After a slow start to their group campaign, Atleti worked hard to reach the round of 16 and they had the perfect opening tonight. They attacked from the off and won a corner on four minutes. The cross bounced off Fabinho and fell to Saul Niguez, who stabbed it home from close range.

VAR took a look, but Virgil van Dijk had played Saul onside and the Wanda Metropolitano crowd celebrated again. What a start!

Midway through the half, Alvaro Morata had a chance from a tight angle. He brought it back onto his right foot and fired, but Alisson made a great save.

Liverpool had the ball in the net a minute later when the Atleti keeper Jan Oblak fluffed a clearance straight to Mo Salah who passed to Roberto Firmino. But the Brazilian was offside when he rolled the ball back for Salah to slot home, and the flag went straight up.

Despite dominating possession for most of the first half, the Reds had failed to register a single shot on target.

Liverpool had a good chance early in the second half when Joe Gomez swung a superb cross into the danger area. Salah met it at the near post, but his header flashed wide when we expected the net to bulge.

And Atleti should have doubled their lead midway through the second half. Renan Lodi pulled a great ball back to Alvaro Morata, but just as he was about to fire the ball home he slipped and lost the chance.

Then, with 15 minutes remaining Liverpool came closest when Divock Origi crossed to Jordan Henderson, but he volleyed inches wide of Oblak’s post.



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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

 

Key statistics

Before the tie started the Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool betting odds had the Reds at 1.33 to make it to the quarter-finals, with Simeone’s team at 3.32. Take a look tomorrow and that will have evened up a little.

Liverpool had over 75 per cent of the ball in the first half but didn't test Oblak once, while Los Rojiblancos had two shots on target. And as Atleti stifled the Reds in the second half, neither side tested the keepers.

Simeone won’t mind that one bit. This was a huge performance and one which ended Liverpool’s 14-match unbeaten run while extending Atleti’s unbeaten home record to six.

Saul is the man for Atleti. The Madrid side has never lost a match in which he has scored, winning 33 and drawing four…incredible!

 

What’s next?

The action keeps on coming for SBOBET Champions League fans, with 2019 losing finalists Spurs kicking off their round of 16 tie against RB Leipzig tomorrow night.

The big Champions League 2020 news of the last five days was the announcement that the UEFA have banned Manchester City for two years. Whether that will stand up in court is another question, but I bet UEFA bosses will hope Real Madrid can oust the Sky Blues in the tie of the round!

Back to domestic matters, Los Rojiblancos need a strong finish to their league season to guarantee Champions League football again next year. They currently hold that fourth spot, but only ahead of Sevilla on goal difference while Real Sociedad are only three points further back.

On Sunday, they are at home to sixth-placed Villarreal; it’s a game they need to win to remain on track.

And what of Liverpool? Well, Klopp’s men are at home to struggling West Ham, who are due to be softened up by Manchester City tomorrow night. These are worrying times for the Hammers and their stress is unlikely to ease at Anfield.

 

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25-Feb 2020 Tuesday 7:57 PM (208 days ago)            #20
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Champions League: The Boy Haaland Is Something Special!

Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Paris Saint-Germain

This Champions League tie between Borussia Dortmund and Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain always had the potential to be a thriller.

A simple look at the team sheets offered a glimpse of that.

And goals too. After all, PSG’s previous five games had contained 29 goals, while Dortmund’s matches had witnessed 27.

So, we were ready for a night of Champions League 2020 highlights with confidence seemingly high in both camps.

Despite selling many of their best players over the past decade, the official Bundesliga website was confident its own team could upset the free-spending Parisians.

But then again, that is exactly what its official Ligue 1 counterpart predicted also in the Signal Iduna Park.

Highlights of the game

What we ultimately got was a game which showed that, despite splashing the cash in a way few others can, PSG (and many other big hitters) missed a trick when Erling Braut Haaland went up for sale last month.



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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

Of course, this tie is far from over and no doubt the SBOBET Champions League 2020 betting odds still make the Parisians favourite to progress.

But it’s certain that this young Norwegian is a special talent who, with an injury-free spell, is destined for special things.

Since his arrival, he has scored 11 goals in seven games and Dortmund have scored 23 goals in their five Bundesliga games in 2020, hitting the net at least four times on four occasions.

None, though, have potentially been as important as the two he scored here. When the contest did see goals, they all arrived in a 10-minute spell.

First, the dangerous Achraf Hakimi produced some fine work down the right and his cross reached the Norwegian, who thrashed the ball home from close range.

Then, after Kylian Mbappe – who had been twice denied by another impressive showing from Roman Burki - produced his own moment of quality and squared for Neymar to tap home, Haaland decided to take centre stage again.

Within two minutes, in fact.

Substitute Gio Reyna ran into space and fed his fellow teenager, who unleashed a stunner which flew into the top corner.

An incredible strike worthy of winning any game and one which gave the Black and Yellows a slender lead ahead of their trip to Paris in three weeks' time.

For PSG, knocked out at this stage for the past three seasons, most famously of all last season despite holding a 2-0 first leg lead, this was a blow. Although, it wasn't necessarily a fatal one as they are desperate to finally make a big splash in Europe.

This was also their first defeat in the tournament this season. Thomas Tuchel, facing his former club here, won all but one of their six games in the group stage, drawing the other 2-2 at Real Madrid.

However, this was Haaland’s and  Dortmund’s night as they protected an unbeaten home run that stretches back to April last year.

Will it be enough to reach the last eight?

Key statistics

Haaland has scored eight Champions League goals in seven appearances this season (six for former club Red Bull Salzburg).

The Norwegian teenager has hit 39 goals in 29 competitive appearances in total in 2019/20, including 11 in seven since joining Dortmund in January.

Dortmund are the only Bundesliga team yet to lose at home in any competition this season.

Borussia Dortmund supporters cheered loud and proud for their squad in the Champions League
Borussia Dortmund fans forming the BVB logo on the stands

This was a Champions League debut for US youth international Reyna. At 17 years and 97 days, he is the youngest player to assist a goal in the Champions League since November 2007, when Bojan did for Barcelona, (aged 17 years, 91 days versus Lyon).

Hakimi registered his 10th assist of the season but his first in European competition.

Paris Saint-Germain have only won two of their past nine away games in the Champions League knockout stages, yet have won nine of their last 13 Champions League matches (drawn one, lost three) and have now scored in 31 consecutive games in the competition.

The only previous encounter between Borussia Dortmund and PSG was in the 2010/11 Europa League group stages - both games ended in a draw (1-1 in Dortmund, 0-0 in Paris).

Dortmund have made it past the Champions League round of 16 only once in the last five seasons. It was in 2016-17 under current PSG manager Tuchel.

Tuchel has won none of his six away games against Dortmund (drawn two, lost four), all five before tonight taking place when he was in charge of Mainz (2009-2014).

Dortmund’s last 24 goals in the Champions League have all come from open play, the longest current run among the remaining sides in the competition.

PSG forward Mbappe has scored/assisted 31 goals in 31 Champions League games (19 goals, 12 assists).

What’s next?

Dortmund now revert to domestic duties with three Bundesliga fixtures before the second let in Paris. They are at Werder Bremen on Saturday (Feb 22) in the Bundesliga.

It’s the same for PSG who also have a French Cup match to contend with in the same period. They are next in action at home to Bordeaux in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

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25-Feb 2020 Tuesday 7:59 PM (208 days ago)            #21
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Champions League: Red Bull Flying Over London!

Spurs 0-1 RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig took a priceless one-goal lead from their Champions League tie against Spurs tonight, thanks to a second half penalty from Timo Werner.

Head coach Julian Nagelsmann will be delighted by his team’s performance as they dominated for all but the last 15 minutes. Once dubbed the Mini-Mourinho, the 32-year-old tried to distance himself from such comparisons before the game.

But he outwitted the original Mourinho tonight!

With top scorers Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son injured long term, Jose Mourinho needs to call on his squad players and new recruits. But only when he brought Erik Lamela on late in the second half did his team look likely to score.

The Spurs vs Red Bull Leipzig betting odds marginally favoured the Bundesliga club making it to the quarter finals, and the odds will be shorter now.

 

Highlights of the game

Tottenham Hotspur dig Champions League hole with round of 16 first leg loss
Tottenham Hotspur keeper Hugo Lloris in action as RB Leipzig's Timo Werner shoots at goal

Under Mourinho, the Spurs rearguard has a more settled look about it with Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld both in good form. Tonigh, it was Davinson Sanchez alongside Alderweireld at the heart of Spurs defence, and he had plenty of work to do as Red Bull started like a house on fire!

Patrik Schick, on loan from Roma, came close in the very first minute but his shot flew narrowly wide, and a minute later the visitors came even closer.

Sanchez put a brave block in to deny Timo Werner and Angelino’s follow up from a tight angle was deflected onto the post and away.

Harry Winks blocked another Werner effort, and then Sanchez cleared away a Schick header as the Red Bulls continued to dominate.

Hugo Lloris made a save from Angelino, and then an even better one from a fierce Werner drive when the Red Bull striker was clean through. Sanchez continued to play his part, intercepting a cross aimed for Schick to see Spurs through to half time with their goal intact.

Spurs had an early second half chance when Serge Aurier put Lucas Moura in with a superb ball. But as his shot headed towards goal, Peter Gulacsi got down well to save.

But on the hour, Red Bull got the away goal they deserved as Werner chipped the ball into the penalty area. And when Ben Davies clattered into Konrad Laimer, the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Werner stepped up and fired the ball past Lloris and into the corner of the net for his fourth goal of the competition.

Spurs tried to respond and Giovani Lo Celso fired a low shot at Gulacsi, but Leipzig were a constant threat at the other end and Lloris saved well when the lively Schick tried his luck.

Mourinho brought on Erik Lamela in place of the ineffective Dele Alli and Spurs did start to look more lively, and on 73 minutes they came so close when Gulacsi tipped a Lo Celso effort onto the post.

When Lucas Moura headed over on 89 minutes that was that, and now Spurs have an uphill task to turn this tie around in Leipzig.

 

Key statistics

We cautiously backed Spurs to take a lead to Leipzig in our pre-match SBOBET tips but they were totally outplayed in the opening 45 minutes as Red Bull rained 13 shots down on Lloris goal while the hosts only registered three.

Only a late flurry from Spurs evened things up as they ended up with 12 shots to Leipzig’s 16.

Nagelsmann is the youngest coach to take charge of a Champions League knockout match and his team is now unbeaten in the last five away games in the competiton.

In other Champions League 2020 news, Atalanta took control of their tie with a thumping 4-1 win over Valencia.



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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

 

What’s next?

Spurs have a huge game in the Premier League on Saturday when they visit Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. They are just a single point behind the fourth placed Blues who will be furious after they lost at home to Manchester United on Monday night.

Frank Lampard’s side bossed the game, but had two goals controversially chalked off by VAR, while United goal-scorer Harry Maguire was lucky to avoid an early red card.

If Spurs can navigate that game they will be right in the hunt for a top four place, and then they host another team hopeful of European football when Wolves are their visitors a week later.

The Red Bulls have emerged as serious contenders for the Bundesliga title and they sit a single point behind leaders FC Bayern with two thirds of the season complete.

They have two tough tests coming though. First, Nagelsmann takes his team to Schalke, who are currently sixth in the league, before fifth placed Bayer Leverkusen visits Leipzig.

 

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25-Feb 2020 Tuesday 8:01 PM (208 days ago)            #22
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Champions League: Atalanta Crushes Valencia in Statement Win

Atalanta 4-1 Valencia

Atalanta made their resounding debut in the Champions League Final 16 round by dominating Valencia last night at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia.

The Orobici were simply ruthless from the jump as they pushed the pace and took advantage of Valencia’s listless defence time and time again.

Hans Hateboer scored a brace for the home team, while Josip Ilicic and Remo Freuler fired in one each to significantly increase Atalanta’s Champions League 2020 odds of making it into the next round.

Before this game, a lot were wondering how Atalanta would fare in the Final 16 since it’s their first time there. But they quickly erased any doubts as their prolific attack carried over when it mattered most.



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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

With the team looking healthier, the Orobici finally found their stride under the guidance of Gian Piero Gasperini, and that should put the rest of the playing field on notice moving forward.

Another solid outing on March 11 should seal the deal for Atalanta barring any unforeseen circumstances, and that should make their loyal fans ecstatic considering that making it this far was deemed a miracle at the first place.

Today, SBOBET give you the recap of last night’s fixture.

 

Highlights of the game

Mario Pasalic opened our Champions League 2020 highlights when he received a lovely pass from Josip Ilicic with a counter-attack at the eighth minute. While he was unable to score the goal because of Jaume Domenech’s save, it was a sign of things to come for the Orobici.

Soon at the 16th minute, Alejandro Gomez patiently probed near the penalty area and he threaded a needle past multiple Valencia defenders to find an open Hans Hateboer for a sublime finish. Jose Gaya fell asleep for a split second which gave the Dutch wing-back his first score of the evening.

Valencia had their first real chance during the 30th minute when they executed a misdirection play that found a cutting Ferran Torres for a possible goal, but Jose Palomino got the better of him at the time through a brilliant challenge.

They had another one a few minutes later when Jose Gaya flicked an excellent volley to Goncalo Guedes on the left flank. However, his shot went too wide to the right and Eliaquim Mangala couldn’t guide the ball to the back of the net.

Three minutes before the first half break, Atalanta’s top scorer in Josip Ilicic doubled their advantage with a fine strike, and that sent the crowd into pandemonium.

Remo Freuler opened the second half by scoring one of his own at the 57th minute. Geoffrey Kondogbia wasn’t able to clear the ball out and that paved the way for the Orobici to counter and score their third goal of the evening.

Atalanta committed one rare mistake last evening when Pierluigi Gollini cleared the ball to the wrong person, but he was able to make amends when he saved a short-range shot by Ferran Torres.

They were able to make a quick turnaround through their exquisite passing. Hans Hateboer received a backheel pass which led to him racing at front all alone for a cool finish to score his brace at the 62nd minute.

For consolation, Denis Cheryshev scored Valencia’s only goal of the match when Jose Palomino failed to clear the ball and made a wrong pass.

Cheryshev would have one more crack at it when Ferran Torres volleyed a pass to the penalty area. However, Pierluigi Gollini showed great reflexes by slapping the ball away for one more save.

Valencia will have a lot of ground to make up when they host Atalanta for the second leg of their Champions League clash
Maxi Gomez and the rest of his Valencia teammates react after Hans Hateboer scored his second goal

Valencia couldn’t get any more chances from there and it was such a disappointing night for Albert Celades’ men.

 

Key statistics

Surprisingly, Valencia had more shots (18) and lesser fouls (9) compared to Atalanta, but the latter made more passes (487) and controlled 52-per cent of the possession.

Valencia have lost their third consecutive game against an Italian side in European competition for the first since 2000. They have also been lacklustre on the road in the Champions League too (D4, L6).

Atalanta, on the other hand, have won their third straight match in European competition for the first time in their history.

Alejandro Gomez enjoyed his first taste of Champions League action at the age of 32. He may have not scored any goals last night, but he was a vital cog to their attack.

 

What’s next?

Atalanta will host Sassuolo this Sunday for their next Serie A match as they try to sneak into the top three of the standings.

On the other hand, Valencia will continue their La Liga journey as they’ll clash with Real Sociedad on the road on Sunday.

These two sides will meet again on March 11 for the second leg of the Champions League Final 16 knockouts.

 

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25-Feb 2020 Tuesday 8:03 PM (208 days ago)            #23
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Champions League: Barca’s Campaign Begins in Naples

Napoli vs Barcelona

The Stadio San Paulo welcomes Leo Messi and Barcelona to Italy on Tuesday, as Napoli faces up to one of the favourites to win this season’s big European competition.

Champions League: Napoli vs Barcelona is a clash between two in-form sides, both arriving on the back of three consecutive victories, and this is not a match the Catalans will be taking lightly. But in Messi they have that magical ingredient which gives them an advantage in every game, and after strolling through the group stages, this is where Barca gets down to business.

This tie has gone under the radar somewhat, with all eyes on the Real Madrid vs Manchester City clash but, rest assured, the San Paulo will be bouncing for one of those famous European nights under the floodlights.

 

Talking Points

Messi in devastating form

Barcelona warmed up for the Round of 16 clash by hammering Eibar 5-0 in La Liga, and Messi sent out yet another notice of his pure genius, scoring the first four goals before Arthur added a fifth.

We’ve run out of superlatives to describe the Argentine phenomenon, suffice to say he is one of the greatest players of all time. He makes goals for his team-mates as readily as he scores them and must be a delight to play alongside. Luis Suarez is out injured so Messi is likely to be joined by Antoine Griezmann upfront and that’s a terrifying prospect for any defence.

Barca are fourth favourites to lift the Champions League in May, with odds of 7.00 at SBOBET, but little separates the top six sides in a wide-open competition. The Blaugrana are five-time winners of Europe’s premier competition and they’ll have their eyes on a sixth.

Napoli starting to click

Gli Azzurri have had a torrid season by their standards but, in recent weeks, they have looked back to their old selves and are in contention for a place in Europe next season.

They started to climb the table when a Dries Mertens goal gave them a 0-1 win away to Cagliari last week, and they followed that up with a 1-2 win away to Brescia on Friday night.

Can Napoli beat five-time Champions League winners Barcelona?
Dries Mertens celebrates after Napoli's win against Inter Milan in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-finals

But with a rather different level of threat coming up, big centre back Khalid Koulibaly will be a key player if he’s declared fit to play alongside Kostas Manolas.

At sixth in the Serie A table, and nine points adrift of Atalanta in fourth, it looks like Europa League football for Gli Azzurri next season, unless they can win this competition.

Beat Barcelona and that will not be out of the question, but Gennaro Gattuso is under no illusions regarding the size of the task, saying: “We’re up against a great team of great players. We know it’s going to be difficult but…we shouldn’t have any fear: we have to respect them and play our own game.

 

History

The Blaugrana have had the better of the Napoli vs Barcelona results over the past decade, winning three to Napoli’s one. The meetings have all been friendly games, the last in August when Barca won 0-4 as Suarez scored twice and Griezmann was also on target.

Gli Azzurri were impressive at the Champions League group stage, finishing second in Group E and just a single point behind Liverpool, having beaten Jurgen Klopp’s Champions 2-0 in the opening fixture.

Meanwhile, Barca finished on 14 points to win Group F ahead of Borussia Dortmund. They won two and drew one away from home, finishing with a 1-2 win away to Inter Milan to register their 150th Champions League victory.

The Blaugrana have lost only two of their last 29 Champions League games, winning 18 and drawing nine.

Meanwhile, Napoli have won six, drawn three and lost three of their last 12 home Champions League games.

Both teams come into this clash with five wins in six in all competitions.

 

Betting Tip

??

Napoli vs Barcelona Barcelona 1X2 @ 2.19
February 26, 04:00 (GMT+8)

The Catalans are at 1.25 to advance to the quarter-finals with Napoli at 3.85, but the Napoli vs Barcelona betting odds are more evenly matched for the first leg when the Italians have home advantage.

Barcelona are slightly odds against to win the game, with the draw at 3.40 and Napoli at 3.15.

Gli Azzurri have been looking more like their old selves recently, but Messi in his current form will take some stopping, so I’m backing the Blaugrana to take a lead back to the Camp Nou.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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25-Feb 2020 Tuesday 8:06 PM (208 days ago)            #24
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Champions League: Youth Welcomes Experience To Stamford Bridge

Chelsea vs Bayern Munich

As Champions League matches go, this is very much a story of the new super-rich now established top club against the traditional powerhouse of German football.

Both have been crowned European champions over the past decade and both crave it again.

And there is certainly an element of pressure on both ahead of this two-legged last 16 tie.

Chelsea’s last three UEFA Champions League campaigns have all ended in the last 16, while Bayern were knocked out by English opposition at this stage 12 months ago, going down to eventual winners Liverpool – their earliest exit from the competition since 2011.

 

Talking Points

As their respective classes of 2020 go, the west Londoners are a work in progress – arguably a side in transition, although one holding onto fourth spot in the Premier League under a fairly rookie manager in fans’ favourite Frank Lampard.

In Hans Flick, Bayern Munich also have a coach who is taking his first steps in management after a long spell as Joachim Low’s number two for the German national side.

 


 

 

The difference is, he has inherited a side littered with seasoned internationals and experience that Chelsea only have in a handful of areas.

Their cause, nor the spotlight on Lampard, will not be helped by the absence of the likes of N’Golo Kante for this one – one of their true experienced world class talents who lifted the World Cup 18 months ago alongside Bayern’s Benjamin Pavard, Lucas Hernandez and Corentin Tolisso.

Meanwhile, former Borussia Dortmund winger Christian Pulisic is a doubt with an injury of his own.

In contrast, Bayern’s Champions League news is more centred on who Flick should leave out.

The Bundesliga leaders and five-time European champions have an all-star cast featuring Robert Lewandowski – the Poland captain has 38 goals in his 32 competitive club appearances this season, finding the back of the net on average every 75 minutes - Philippe Coutinho, Thomas Müller, Ivan Perisicand Serge Gnabry, unrecognisable from his time at Arsenal.

What’s more, on their last two Champions League trips to London, Bayern have claimed big wins over Arsenal (5-1 in March 2017) and Tottenham (7-2 in October 2019).

To get here, Tottenham Hotspur (7-2 and 3-1), Red Star Belgrade (3-0 and 6-0) and Olympiacos (3-2 and 2-0) were all dispatched with aplomb as the 29-time German champions recorded the best group stage in Champions League history with six wins from six and a goal difference of +19.

Bayern will start as favourites in what is, of course, a repeat of the 2012 final, won in dramatic fashion by the English club on Munich soil.

Yet for the superstitious amongst you, a quick stat: the Blues have never lost at home to German visitors, winning six of the nine fixtures.

 

History

Bayern Munich will come from three recent win as they visit Stamford Bridge
Robert Lewandowski celebrates with Bayern Munich teammates after their match vs SC Paderborn

They didn’t have a history of clashes until 16 years ago but they have made up for lost time with their subsequent meetings unmissable.

To refresh your memory, in the 2012 final Thomas Müller’s 83rd-minute header had seemingly given Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern victory at their Munich home.

However, five minutes later Didier Drogba headed an equaliser for a Chelsea team managed by Roberto Di Matteo.

Former Blues winger Arjen Robben had an extra-time penalty saved by Petr Čech and there was more spot-kick misery for Bayern in the shoot-out when Čech saved from Ivica Olić and Bastian Schweinsteiger as Chelsea triumphed 4-3 on penalties to be crowned champions of Europe.

Bayern were victorious in the 2013 UEFA Super Cup between the teams at the Eden Arena in Prague.

After claiming the crown 12 months later, they met Chelsea who had won the Europa League.

They twice came from behind with Franck Ribéry and, dramatically in the final seconds of extra time, Javi Martínez cancelling out goals from Fernando Torres and Eden Hazard to force another penalty shoot-out.

This time Bayern ran out 5-4 winners on spot kicks.

Lampard played in both those matches, as indeed he did in the 2005 quarter-finals of the competition – their first ever meeting.

Then Jose Mourinho’s Blues prevailed 6-5 on aggregate against Felix Magath’s Bayern.

Chelsea won the first leg 4-2 at home with Lampard scoring twice. Lampard and Drogba struck again in the second leg as Bayern won 3-2 on the night but went out on aggregate.

 

Betting Tip

??

Chelsea vs Bayern Munich Bayern Munich Asian Handicap -1.00 @ 2.44
February 26, 04:00 (GMT+8)

The SBOBET Champions League betting odds back Bayern 1X2 @ 1.82 with Chelsea out @ 3.95 and the draw also deemed unlikely @ 3.75.

With Asian Handicap betting, Chelsea are available +0.50 @ 2.12. Experience will surely win the day.

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?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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25-Feb 2020 Tuesday 8:08 PM (208 days ago)            #25
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Champions League: City Look to Capitalise on Wobbling Real

Real Madrid vs Manchester City

Real Madrid will not be in the best of form heading into their big Champions League round of 16 first leg match against Manchester City. The Spanish giants have stumbled in recent weeks, which has seen them lose their lead atop La Liga.

Meanwhile, City have gotten back to winning ways after back-to-back defeats to Manchester United in the Carabao Cup and Tottenham in the league. And given their current predicament with the upcoming UEFA ban, City will certainly be fired up to make this year's campaign count.

The Champions League 2020 betting odds have Real as slight underdogs at home, but the 13-time European champions should never be counted out.

 

Talking Points

Real Madrid's downward trend

The New Year started out so well for Real. After drawing their final three matches before the winter break, they won their first eight matches of 2020, although one of which was an extra-time win over Atletico in the Spanish Super Cup.

That terrific run extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to an impressive 21 matches (16 wins, five draws).

Champions League: Real Madrid are expecting Karim Benzema to lead in winning victory against Manchester City
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema looking dissappointed during their match vs Levante

However, that run finally came to an end after their 3-4 Copa del Rey defeat to Real Sociedad. And after a 1-4 win at Osasuna, they had more setbacks, with a 2-2 home draw against Celta Vigo and a shock 1-0 defeat to Levante this past weekend.

Real's attack has not been all that fierce all season -- they've scored just 46 goals in 25 La Liga games -- but it has slowed down even more with Karim Benzema's recent dry spell. The Frenchman has scored just two goals in his last 11 appearances and none in his last four.

Real have received close to nothing this season from big-money signing Eden Hazard, who has been injured for most of the campaign. And after making his return against Celta, Hazard once again suffered a broken ankle so he will be out for the Man City match as well as the Clasico on the weekend.

It will be up to the likes of Isco and Vinicius Junior, Lucas Vazquez, or Rodrygo to provide support up front for Benzema against City.

The defence has by far been Real's big strength this season. However, they have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last four games, which is somewhat concerning. That backline will need to be at the top of its game to prevent City from stealing a crucial away goal.

City's big chance

The Premier League is long gone for City. They remain a massive 19 points back of runaway leaders Liverpool, who still have a game in hand.

The Champions League is very clearly the main focus for Pep Guardiola's side from this point forward, especially with their uncertain future in the competition due to their recent UEFA ban.

City have not been quite the same attacking force in 2020. They've scored over two goals just once in their seven league games this year, although that one occasion was in a 1-6 thumping of Aston Villa.

 


 

 

Sergio Aguero had a hat-trick in that Villa win as he scored in his first four matches of 2020. But the Argentine has cooled off in recent weeks. He's failed to score in each of his last four appearances, his longest goal drought of the season.

Aguero had a chance to end that dry spell in their 0-1 win at Leicester over the weekend, but he failed to convert a penalty, which has been City's Achilles heel this season. They've missed their last four attempts from the spot.

Still, City have so many weapons besides Aguero who can produce some Champions League 2020 highlights. Raheem Sterling, who missed the Leicester match due to injury, should be fit to make the trip to Madrid. Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, and Gabriel Jesus are also capable of being match-winners.

And on the other end, City's defence has started to improve since the return of Aymeric Laporte. They have kept a clean sheet in all three matches he has played. With Real's attack not as prolific these days, City will like their chances of limiting the damage at the Bernabeu.

 

History

Real Madrid and Manchester City have squared off four times previously. City have yet to win, with Real winning twice and drawing twice.

The two sides last met in the semi-finals of the 2015/16 Champions League. Real just barely got through over two legs after a Fernando own-goal in the second leg. Madrid went on to the final, where they beat Atletico Madrid on penalties.

They also met in the 2012/13 group stage. Real came from behind twice to win 3-2 at home and drew 1-1 in Manchester. Benzema had given Real the lead before Sergio Aguero equalised from the penalty spot.

 

Betting Tip

??

Real Madrid vs Manchester City Under 3.00 Goals @ 1.88
February 27, 04:00 (GMT+8)

The SBOBET odds for this match have Real priced at 2.77 at home, with Manchester City the favourites at 2.44 to win the first leg in Madrid. Meanwhile, a draw is priced at 3.35.

A draw feels like it's the most likely result in this match. Madrid will be desperate not to lose and could set up in a more defensive formation to prevent City from grabbing an away goal.

For all of Guardiola's managerial success, he has straight-up struggled away from home in Europe. His sides have won just six of the last 26 away knockout matches, with 10 draws and 10 losses.

Having said all of that, though, I'm a bit more confident in this being a low-scoring contest that will go under three goals. Real could play a lot more cautiously in the first leg, while City should be able to contain a limited Real attack.

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25-Feb 2020 Tuesday 8:15 PM (208 days ago)            #26
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Champions League: Next Stop France as ‘Old Lady’ Seeks Holy Grail

Lyon vs Juventus

It is something they have strived to win for decades.

Not since the mid-90s, 1996 to be precise, has the ‘old lady’ of Turin been able to call themselves Champions of Europe: the Champions League they so covet.

Recent domestic dominance does not detract from what a very good side they are, of course, but nor does it hide the fact Juventus have fallen short when it comes to glory on the European stage for fast approaching a quarter of a century.

 

Talking Points

That was the main reason why Cristiano Ronaldo was purchased 19 months ago for a big-money fee, even for a player well into his 30s, and he has been brilliant for them, as he was for Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Yet should he bring this holy grail back to the football-mad Bianconeri, should he sign off as a winner on the European stage once more, it would all but cap the argument for those who say he is the greatest player in the world.

Not only that but he would become only the second player to win the Champions League at three different clubs after Clarence Seedorf.

Ronaldo certainly marked his 1,000th senior appearance at the weekend in the manner to which we have become accustomed and he will lead the line again in France against a Lyon side which overcame the Sbobet Champions League betting odds in its final group game to reach the last 16.

While Juve manager Maurizio Sarri has yet to fully convince since taking over from Max Allegri last summer, Juventus remain top of Serie A, are in the Coppa Italia semi-finals and are favourites against a Lyon team which, while a good side, lack the sparkle perhaps it once had and remain a club which traditionally has had to sell its best players.

With Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele in the attack, the hosts will always carry a threat, yet history suggests this may be where the Olympique Lyonnais run ends for another year.

Champions League: Can Memphis Depay pose a threat upfront against Juventus?
Memphis Depay in action for Lyon during the Champions League group stage against RB Leipzig

This is the 11th time they have reached the last 16 and, having won their first three ties, they have lost six of the last seven, their most recent win at this stage coming against Madrid a decade ago.

Lyon have also only won one of their last eight home European matches (drawn six, lost one), while Juventus are unbeaten in eight matches against French sides, home and away, since a 2-0 loss at Bordeaux in the 2009/10 group stage.

That, naturally, will count for little when the first leg kicks off in the OL Stadium on Wednesday night.

But it would be a big surprise if Lyon, seventh in Lique 1, can topple the Italian giants.

 

History

This is the fifth clash between the sides, all in the past six years.

Juve won three of the first four fixtures, including a pair of 1-0 victories in France.

They first met in the 2014 Europa League quarter-finals when Leonardo Bonucci scored the only goal of the first leg at Lyon’s former home, the Stade de Gerland, five minutes from time.

 


 

Andrea Pirlo increased Juve’s aggregate advantage four minutes into the Turin return and, although Jimmy Briand's 18th-minute strike gave OL hope, a Samuel Umtiti own goal midway through the second half sealed Juventus’s place in the semi-finals.

In the 2016/17 Champions League group stage, Juventus again secured a narrow victory in France, Juan Cuadrado netting the only goal with 14 minutes left at the OL Stadium on Matchday 3.

The Bianconeri looked set for another narrow victory at the Juventus Stadium thanks to Gonzalo Higuaín's 13th-minute penalty, but Corentin Tolisso earned Lyon a point with five minutes left.

Juve went on to finish first in Group H and reach the tournament final, while third-placed Lyon moved into the Europa League, where they reached the semi-finals.

 

Betting Tip

??

Lyon vs Juventus Over 2.75 Goals @ 2.42
February 27, 04:00 (GMT+8)

I do think this last 16 tie has the potential to produce plenty of Champions League highlights and a fair few goals too.

Juventus are clear favourites, backed with 1X2 odds @ 1.92 and Asian Handicap odds –0.75 @ 2.21. Lyon, in comparison, are 1X2 @ 3.90 and Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 2.29. The draw is on offer @ 3.40.

A repeat of their most recent meeting – correct score 1-1 – will payout @ 6.20, while total goals 2-3 and total goals 4-6 are available @ 1.83 and 3.65 respectively.

My three-star tip, though, is for over 2.75 goals @ 2.42.

I think Juventus will win over the two legs but they won’t necessarily have it all their own way in France.

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26-Feb 2020 Wednesday 2:02 PM (207 days ago)            #27
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Champions League: Brilliant and Buoyant Bayern Boss the Bridge!

Chelsea 0-3 Bayern Munich

It was always going to be a big Champions League ask for a Chelsea side missing key experience and lacking the savviness of their more recent predecessors when up against opponents jam packed with those attributes.

And so it proved as youth welcomed experience to Stamford Bridge.

The last times these sides had met was famously on Bayern turf when the English side were second best for 120 minutes only to end up being crowned champions of Europe.

While then they had the likes of current manager Frank Lampard, Dider Drogba and Petr Cech on the pitch, they now largely possess far less wily campaigners, even though they are full of potential.

That was evident here as Bayern created two of their own Champions League highlights in four minutes to all but render the tie over with the second leg still to come.

 

Highlights of the game

Chelsea had gone into this game on the back of a much-needed victory at home to Spurs on Saturday, while Bayern had struggled to overcome basement battlers Paderborn.

But any suggestions that the home side were capable of another win were quickly dispelled.

First Serge Gnabry hammered in a Robert Lewandowski cut-back, and no sooner had the Bavarian celebrations died down. He finished a slick move following a 1-2 with the Pole for two goals in four minutes.

The ruthless Gnabry must have made fans of his former club Arsenal question why he was sold.

Robert Lewandowski helps Bayern Munich in sealing a dominating 0-3 win against Chelsea in Champions League
Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring a goal during Chelsea-Bayern Munich match in the Champions League

Lewandowski, who else, completed the home embarrassment by taping the ball home after teenage Canadian Alphonso Davies surged forward and left the home defence catching their breath.

It will be interesting to see what his dad, a big Chelsea fan, has to say his son when they next speak!

The home side’s misery was deepened when Marcos Alonso saw red for an elbow on the Bayern number nine.

Men against boys.

Bayern are all but in the quarter-finals.

 

Key statistics

Only four players have scored more goals in London this season in the Premier League and Champions League combined than Gnabry (6).

The top four all play in London - Harry Kane (13), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Son Heung-min (both 10) and Tammy Abraham (7).

This was the first time Lewandowski had assisted two goals in a Champions League game.

Lewandowski is the top scorer in this season’s competition with 11 goals and the Polish frontman now has scored 43 goals in 39 games so far this term.

Bayern are the only team to score 10 away goals this season in the Champions League. They have 19.

Only Liverpool (2017-18) and Real Madrid (2013-14) - 20 each - have managed more in a campaign.

Munich are the third team in Champions League history to win their first seven games. The previous two - Barcelona in 2002-03 and Real Madrid in 2014-15 - did not reach the final.

Bayern are unbeaten in their last 13 European away games (W10, D3), scoring at least two goals in all but a goalless draw at Liverpool in last season’s round of 16 at this stage.

Alonso is the first Chelsea player to be sent off in a Champions League match since John Terry against Barcelona in the 2012 semi-finals.

This was only Chelsea’s second European reverse at Stamford Bridge in 15 matches (W8, D5).

This was the first time the Blues had lost at home to German visitors, winning six of the 10 fixtures.

Chelsea have lost eight matches at Stamford Bridge in all competitions this season, their most at home in a single campaign since 1985-86 (also 8).

This was their heaviest ever margin of defeat in a home game in European competition.

Bayern Munich have now scored at least three goals away from home at four separate English clubs in the Champions League - Arsenal twice, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea – all since 2013.

This is Bayern’s 23rd Champions League campaign, fewer only than Barcelona and Real Madrid (both 24). They have now won their section 16 times.

Their record in two-legged ties against English clubs is won 11, lost six. They had won five in a row before last season.



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What’s next?

The SBOBET Champions League betting odds strongly favour Bayern to progress but there is plenty of football for both sides before the second leg on March 18.

Chelsea go to Bournemouth next in the Premier League before hosting Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth round a week after tonight (March 3).

Bayern are back in Bundesliga action at Hoffenheim on Saturday before travelling to Schalke in the German Cup quarter-finals, also a week after tonight.

 

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26-Feb 2020 Wednesday 2:06 PM (207 days ago)            #28
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Champions League Napoli vs Barcelona: All Square at San Paolo

Napoli 1-1 Barcelona

Almost 60,000 fans packed into the Stadio San Paolo for Champions League Napoli vs Barcelona, and they witnessed a big performance from the hosts to earn a deserved draw against the La Liga leaders.

Dries Mertens opened the scoring for Napoli on the half-hour with a fine finish, but after he left the field injured, Antoine Griezmann equalised. Barca then went down to 10 men when Arturo Vidal saw red.

The pre-match Napoli vs Barcelona betting odds had the Catalans at 1.25 to advance to the quarter-finals, with Napoli at 3.85, and while those won’t change a great deal, Gli Azzurri are certainly still in it.

 

Highlights of the game

The first half couldn’t have gone much better for Napoli head coach Gennaro Gattuso.

Gli Azzurri have struggled to find consistency in defence during the long absence of centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly and he wasn’t ready for this big clash. But they did a more than decent job of keeping Barca quiet in the opening half.

Leo Messi scored four in Barcelona’s 5-0 destruction of Eibar at the weekend, but he struggled to create anything in the opening period, save for a shot over the bar after a smart one-two with Frenkie de Jong.

The hosts gave Barca a warning on 17 minutes when Jose Callejon’s cross took a touch off Junior Firpo, forcing Marc-Andre ter Stegen into a smart save low to his left.

But the Barca stopper was grasping at thin air when Mertens opened the scoring on 30 minutes, rounding off a fast break with a rasping shot into the top left corner.

The San Paolo crowd rose at half-time to salute a solid defensive show and a great goal, but they couldn't have expected such a smooth ride in the second half.

Barca had no shots on target in the first half, but they made their mark early in the second, though it was with a tackle which left Napoli manager Gennaro Gattuso fuming.

Sergio Busquets caught Mertens with a nasty challenge, and the resulting yellow card means he’ll be out of the second leg. But Mertens was out of the first as he limped off and was replaced by Arkadiusz Milik.

And Gattuso’s mood became even darker soon after when Busquets launched the attack which produced an equaliser. He found the overlapping Nelson Semedo, whose low cross was blasted into the roof of the net by Griezmann.

Napoli fought back and ter Stegen had to be quick off the mark to block Callejon who was clean through. Soon after, Callejon was brought down in the area by Firpo, but the flag was already up for offside.

Finally, Messi came alive and started to threaten the Napoli rearguard, and Nikola Maksimovic had to make a crucial block. But neither side could grab the winner and Barca finished with 10 men as Arturo Vidal saw red.

Arturo Vidal did not get to finish the Champions League Napoli vs Barcelona match due to a red card
Arturo Vidal being showed a red card by the referee during Barcelona's Champions League match against Napoli

He’ll be out of the second leg too after picking up two yellow cards, one for fouling Mario Rui, and a second for threatening the same player.

Odd behaviour!

 

Key statistics

Napoli did well in the group stage, beating Liverpool on the way to qualification, and they put up a good fight here against one of the tournament favourites.

But Gli Azzurri have never reached the quarter-finals of this competition, while Barcelona have reached that stage in the last 12 seasons, a record run.

The Blaugrana have had the better of the Napoli vs Barcelona results over the past decade, winning three to Napoli’s one.

But Napoli have failed to score in only one of the last 21 Champions League games at the San Paolo, while Barca have won only one of their last nine away games in the knockout stage of the Champions League.

Dries Mertens has been directly involved in over 50 per cent of Napoli’s Champions League goals since 2017, scoring 16 and assisting 6 (22 from 43). And his first-half strike took him level with Marek Hamsik as Napoli’s all-time top goal-scorer on 121.



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What’s next?

There are few bigger games than El Clasico, and that’s the big game on Sunday. What a clash we have in store as Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid host Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Blaugrana are back at the top of the La Liga table after four consecutive wins and are two points ahead of Real Madrid. Los Blancos have dropped four points from the last two games.

There will be a white-hot atmosphere at the Bernabeu, as they know a win will take them back to the top. And of course, we’ll be previewing the big match here at SBOBET and will be back again with all the best action after the game.

It’s a huge week for ZZ’s men as they have the small task of facing Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Champions League tomorrow night. That’s another game not to miss.

Meanwhile, Gli Azzurri have a chance to push on in Serie A. They are currently sixth and have a winnable home match against Torino on Sunday. Their visitors have slid down the table to 14th having suffered five defeats in the last six games.

Napoli then have another big game, hosting Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-final second leg, with a one-goal lead to protect.

 

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12-Mar 2020 Thursday 12:09 PM (192 days ago)            #29
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Champions League: No Fans, No Chance Surely for Los Che?

Valencia vs Atalanta

If you predicted the first leg result of this Champions League last 16 tie, I don’t believe you!

Let me remind you what happened.

Atalanta made their debut at this stage of the competition by dominating Valencia at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia.

The Orobici were simply ruthless from the outset as they pushed the pace and took advantage of Valencia’s listless defence time and time again, creating their own Champions League highlights along the way.

That 4-1 success has left them on the brink of reaching the quarter-finals.

Can Valencia, twice runners-up at the start of the century, now really turn this around?

 

 

Talking Points

I don’t think so.

For a start, they will have to do so without their passionate home support.

That is because UEFA has confirmed this second leg will be played behind closed doors in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Spain’s health ministry says it wants to avoid "large gatherings of fans" due to the outbreak.

Everyone knows the Mestalla Stadium can be intimidating for even high profile visitors but that won’t be the case this week.

 


 

 

That is a major advantage for the Italians who are flying high domestically and in Europe.

Never mind the recent comments of Juventus President Andrea Agnelli who caused controversy by suggesting Atalanta shouldn’t have access to the Champions League “without international history and thanks to just one great season.”

Agnelli was speaking at the FT Business of Football Summit in London and seemed to continue his push for a European Super League.

That is both nonsense and greed. Atalanta are here on merit and without the resources of their rivals who, incidentally, trail Lyon going into their own second leg tie.

The sustainability in the Atalanta academy has made the big clubs chase down the talent produced in Bergamo even before they breakthrough into the first team.

Perhaps, most impressively, coach Gian Piero Gasperini has been able to create a team that is willing to fight for the Nerazzurri colours and pit their wits and not be out of place among the elite of European football.

While Atalanta have had a week off since thrashing Lecce 7-2 in Serie A - they are currently fourth - Valencia warmed up for the second leg with a 1-1 draw at Alaves, a result which left Los Che seventh in La Liga.

They know they need to muster a remarkable home recovery to turn round this tie, although can take heart from some events in recent seasons.

Four teams have recovered to win a Champions League tie on aggregate having lost the first leg by three or more goals, most recently last season’s eventual winners Liverpool in their semi-final against Barcelona (0-3 a, 4-0 h). Deportivo La Coruña (v AC Milan, 2003/04 quarter-final, 4-0 h) and Roma (v Barcelona, 2017/18 quarter-final, 3-0 h) went through after suffering 4-1 away first-leg losses.

Valencia will play their Champions League last-16 tie with Atalanta behind closed doors
Atalanta's Hans Hateboer scores his side's opening goal against Valencia

Barcelona - with considerable help from the official who awarded contentious penalties - went through after suffering a 4-0 first-leg loss at Paris St Germain at this stage three years ago, winning the return 6-1.

Ironically, Valencia have been far better away from home in the competition this season.

In the group stages, they lost 3-0 at home to Ajax in their second game – their sole defeat in the section – then came from behind to beat French side Lille 4-1 before drawing with Chelsea.

They will have to turn around their home form and do so without their passionate home support if they are to spoil Atalanta’s party.

 

History

Given that Atalanta had not faced Spanish club in European competition before the first leg last month, you won’t be surprised to hear there is no previous history.

Atalanta were the only team to make their group stage debut in 2019/20 – they were the 10th Italian club to feature and the 141st overall – and are one of two round of 16 debutants along with RB Leipzig of Germany.

 

Betting Tip

??

Valencia vs Atalanta Asian Handicap Valencia 0.00 @ 2.13
March 11, 04:00 (GMT+8)

SBOBET Champions League betting odds make Atalanta slight favourites: 1X2 @ 2.38 with Valencia @ 2.80 and the draw @ 3.40.

Total goal 4-6 @ 2.27 is worth a punt, especially when you consider the home side need to score at least three times and that Atalanta have netted 24 times in their last six matches.

They have also scored four or more goals in five of their last 12 matches with successive 5-0 wins against AC Milan and Parma at the turn of the year, closely followed by a new club record with a 7-0 success against Torino, their biggest ever in Serie A.

Despite this, I will plump for a home triumph in an eerie atmosphere. It won’t be enough to stop the Italians from reaching the last eight though.

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12-Mar 2020 Thursday 12:17 PM (192 days ago)            #30
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Champions League: Can Spurs Clip Red Bulls’ Wings?

RB Leipzig vs Tottenham Hotspur

The 43,000 capacity Red Bull Arena will be packed to the rafters on Tuesday night as the final chapter of the Champions League tie between RB Leipzig and Tottenham is set to unfold.

The hosts come into the second leg with a one-goal advantage and the latest SBOBET odds are backing the Red Bulls to finish the job against a Spurs side which is in patchy form.

RB Leipzig are at 1.18 to advance to the quarter-finals with Spurs at 4.57 after Timo Werner’s second-half penalty gave the Bundesliga title-chasers a well-deserved first-leg lead.

Julian Nagelsmann’s side are at 7.50 to reach the final of the competition, and it would be a surprise if Spurs can stop them making the last eight.

But Jose Mourinho is one of the best head coaches in the business when it comes to the big games. And with a Premier League top-four place looking increasingly unlikely, Jose may well be targeting this as a match to win.

 

Talking Points

Red Bulls' striking options

The Spurs defence will come under attack on Tuesday night from a Leipzig team which has plundered 62 goals from 25 games and are up in third place in the Bundesliga.

But they drew a blank last time out away to Europa League-chasing Wolfsburg on Saturday, playing out a 0-0 draw despite sharing 30 shots in the game (16-14 to Wolfsburg).

Top scorer Timo Werner made a second-half appearance from the bench during the game, and he’ll be a major threat to Spurs’ hopes.

Die Roten Bullen are blessed with striking options that Mourinho would love to have at injury-hit Spurs. Emil Forsberg has three goals already in the competition, while Czech forward Patrik Schick, on loan from Roma, has made a big impact in the German league.

Add to those three names Danish forward Yussuf Poulsen and former Everton forward Ademola Lookman and Nagelsmann has plenty of options.

 


 

 

Lo Celso is Spurs’ biggest hope

Mourinho is lacking in such options. Long-term injuries to his best strikers in Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son have seriously damaged Spurs’ top-four hopes.

The Whites had lost four games on the run before a trip to Turf Moor to take on Burnley on Saturday. And for 45 minutes, it looked like they were about to make it five when they went down to an early Chris Wood goal. But Jose made two half-time switches and they rallied in the second period to snatch a point.

He brought on Lucas Moura and Giovani Lo Celso to transform his side’s performance. The big pre-match Champions League 2020 news will be Mourinho’s team selection, and I expect them both to start in Leipzig.

Lo Celso is starting to look like a player who might lift Spurs to higher levels; his dynamic running and eye for the killer pass led to the penalty which won a point at Turf Moor.

He has creative talent but also a dark side to his game, somehow escaping a red card for a horror tackle on Cesar Azpilicueta in the Whites’ recent defeat to Chelsea.

If he can channel that aggression and continue to make chances, then Spurs could yet have a good end to the season.

With Kane and Son both out long-term, Spurs are left with a situation where no one player has scored more than a single goal in the Champions League, though Lo Celso has bagged one.

[caption Champions League: Giovani Lo Celso has now scored 2 goals for Tottenham Hotspur in all competition Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Giovani Lo Celso looks dejected after losing to Norwich City in the FA Cup[/caption]

Summer recruit Tanguy Ndombele has three assists in the competition, but he came in for some stinging criticism from his boss before being hooked at half time yesterday. Mourinho said: “I think somebody has to realise this is the Premier League, and this is a new experience, and the first time he comes to Burnley, and I hope next season he can be fantastic because until now it is not enough.”

But there’s good news for Spurs in the return from injury of goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris, and he could be another man to get Spurs’ season back on track. He’s a big player for France, and Les Bleus will be keen to see him have a successful and injury-free end to the season.

 

History

Leipzig come into the game in the better form, unbeaten in six games and they haven’t lost in any of their last 11 home matches.

Spurs are without a win in five, in all competitions, but the second half in Burnley gives their fans cause for cautious optimism.

 

Betting Tip

??

RB Leipzig vs Tottenham Hotspur 2-3 Goals @ 1.85
March 11, 04:00 (GMT+8)

The Champions League 2020 betting odds point to a home win, but it’s not going to be a walk in the park for the hosts. Red Bull are at 1.61 to win, with the draw at 3.90 and Spurs at 5.20.

But I have a sneaky feeling Jose may be about to pull something out of the bag, and I’m backing a win by the odd goal in three, with the fall-back of a 1-1 draw.

2-3 goals does it for me.

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01-Apr 2020 Wednesday 1:41 PM (172 days ago)            #31
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Champions League: PSG Desperate to Avoid More Last-16 Disappointment

Paris Saint-Germain vs Borussia Dortmund

Paris Saint-Germain are staring yet another disappointing early Champions League exit in the face. The French champions, who will host Borussia Dortmund in the second leg, need to overcome a 2-1 deficit to avoid a fourth consecutive round-of-16 exit.

The Parisiens will have to do so without a couple of key players due to suspension. However, the Champions League 2020 odds are still in their favour as their superstar attackers are all fit ahead of this season-defining match at the Parc des Princes.

But Dortmund are hardly short of firepower themselves with terrific teens Erling Braut Haaland and Jadon Sancho leading the way, and they will be a major threat to snatch an away goal or two.

 

Talking Points

PSG missing key players

It's been business as usual for PSG in France after their first-leg defeat to Borussia Dortmund. They scored four or more goals in three of their four games before that match, and they've scored four in each of the three games after.

Kylian Mbappe has been right in the middle of that goal glut. The 21-year-old superstar has scored six goals in his last three matches. That includes a hat-trick in PSG's 5-1 demolition of Lyon in the Coupe de France.

 


 

 

Meanwhile, Neymar also got on the scoresheet from the penalty spot. The Brazilian is finally back healthy and will lead the PSG attack alongside Mbappe as they look to produce some Champions League 2020 highlights.

However, it remains to be seen how the rest of the PSG side will look. Manager Thomas Tuchel made the surprising decision of going with a 3-4-3 in the first leg, with Thomas Meunier and Layvin Kurzawa playing as wing-backs.

But Meunier will be suspended for the second leg after picking up a yellow card, as will key central midfielder Marco Verratti. Verratti's absence could force Tuchel to put Marquinhos back in midfield against Dortmund, but that could change if Thiago Silva isn't able to play due to a thigh injury.

Even with those absentees, though, PSG will still be a formidable side to beat at home. They've scored at least four goals in seven of their last eight home matches. Meanwhile, they didn't concede a single goal in their three Champions League home assignments during the group stage.

 

BVB in an ideal situation

Borussia Dortmund have really kicked on since their first-leg win over PSG. They've won their last three league games and have leapfrogged RB Leipzig for second place in the Bundesliga table.

Dortmund's defence, in particular, has improved during their current unbeaten run, which has now stretched to five games overall. They've kept clean sheets in three of those games and have allowed just two goals in total.

It's perhaps no coincidence that they've seen a noticeable improvement since the arrival of Emre Can. The German international has added some much-needed steel in midfield, which has made them tougher to break down.

They were unable to completely keep out PSG in Dortmund and could struggle to do so in Paris. But thanks to their 2-1 win in the first leg, the match is perfectly set up for Dortmund to allow PSG to come attack them and for them to break on the counter-attack.

And in Sancho and Haaland, Dortmund have perhaps two of the most devastating young attackers on the counter in Europe at the moment.

Champions League: Erling Haaland is expected to lead Borussia Dortmund upfront against Paris Saint-Germain
Erling Haaland celebrates after scoring for Borussia Dortmund during the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16

Haaland has not scored in each of his last two games, which for him is already a major dry spell. But the young Norwegian knows the way to the back of the net -- as he's shown with his 10 Champions League goals, with two coming in the first leg -- and is more than capable of claiming a crucial away goal.

 

History

Dortmund's win over PSG in the first leg was the first for either team in their three Champions League meetings; they had drawn their first two encounters, which were way back in the 2010-11 season.

However, Dortmund have won just three of their last 15 European away matches, with four draws and eight defeats.

As for PSG, they have won nine of their last 14 Champions League matches (three draws, two defeats) and have scored in 31 consecutive matches in the competition.

 

Betting Tip

??

Paris Saint-Germain vs Borussia Dortmund Borussia Dortmund Asian Handicap +1.00 @ 1.70
March 12, 04:00 (GMT+8)

SBOBET odds have PSG priced as significant favourites at 1.64 to win the second leg at home. Dortmund are 4.80 to grab an away win, while a draw is 3.95.

But of course, there are several ways for Dortmund to win thanks to their a one-goal aggregate advantage. Either a win or a draw would suffice. And even if they suffer a one-goal defeat but still score two or more goals, they would go through on away goals.

I'm generally bullish on the Germans' chances of coming away with a positive result in France, though. Their defence has improved, while their attacking talent on the counter can really hurt a PSG backline that will be missing key personnel.

I don't think PSG will beat the BVB by two clear goals, which is why I'm going with the Germans on the +1.00 Asian Handicap.

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01-Apr 2020 Wednesday 1:44 PM (172 days ago)            #32
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Champions League: Can Atleti Frustrate The Reds Again?

Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid

The Champions League returns this week, and we have a cracking game at Anfield to look forward to as Liverpool try to overturn a first leg deficit against Atletico Madrid.

The La Liga side comes into the tie with a one goal lead thanks to a Diego Simeone master-class at the Wanda Metropolitano two weeks ago. That was one of the big Champions League 2020 results so far, but it will be eclipsed if Los Rojiblancos manage to finish the job at Anfield.

The latest odds here at SBOBET have Simeone’s men at 1.86 to make it through to the quarter finals with Liverpool at 2.04. The Reds will throw everything they have at their visitors but Atleti will be hard to break down and it could well go to the wire.

 

Talking Points

Atleti’s near perfect first leg

Head coach Simeone was delighted with his team’s performance on their home turf, and the outcome was as good as he could have hoped, with a one goal lead and no away goal for their visitors.

Atleti hit Jurgen Klopp’s Reds early and Saul Niguez stabbed home a fourth minute chance; and after a brief VAR deliberation the home crowd erupted. Top scorer Alvaro Morata had a good chance to double the lead but Alisson made a strong save from a tight angle. And while Liverpool had the bulk of possession they failed to register a single shot on target.

Simeone would have loved that!

Jordan Henderson returns in full training after suffering hamstring injury in the first leg of Livepool's Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid
Jordan Henderson receiving medical attention after suffering injury in their match vs Atletico Madrid

Henderson could be back for Liverpool

Skipper Jordan Henderson limped off in the first leg and his team has since stumbled without him. The Reds went out of the FA Cup last week losing 2-0 to Frank Lampard’s Chelsea and prior to that they had a humbling defeat to Watford in the league.

It’s only a matter of time, probably two weeks, until Liverpool claim a first league title in three decades so they can focus with real intent on the Champions League. Henderson is back in training and hopeful of returning, and that would be a major boost for the hosts. They will be without first choice keeper Alisson Becker and Adrian is set to deputise, while wing back Andy Robertson could return from a minor injury having missed Liverpool’s win over Bournemouth at the weekend.

 

Atleti’s threat on the break

Liverpool striker Mo Salah has four goals in the competition and will be desperate to add to that tally and I expect him to start alongside Firmino and Sadio Mane in a front three. They may need to bide their time to break down a solid Atleti defence, comprising the returning Renan Lodi, Felipe, Jose Gimenez and Kieran Trippier. Goal keeper Jan Oblak is an imposing figure and excellent last line of defence.

But the Reds must also be aware of Atleti’s threat on the break, with ex Spurs man Trippier raiding down the right and capable of a dangerous delivery. Alvaro Morata is likely to start up front alongside Joao Felix, recently returned from injury, while Thomas Partey is back from suspension and could feature alongside Niguez in the middle of the park.

 


 

 

Simeone’s team still has work to do to qualify for the 2020/21 Champions League so will be keen to progress in this year’s competition. After sharing four goals in the first half of their weekend clash with Sevilla, Los Rojiblancos laid siege to the Sevilla goal in the second half but couldn’t score the vital winner.

 

History

The Reds, of course, are reigning European champions; but after the defeat in Madrid the latest Champions League 2020 betting odds have placed Manchester City and FC Bayern as favourites to succeed this year. And the Sky Blues will be particularly focussed having lost the Premier League, as well as contesting a two year European ban.

Liverpool are still available at 7.50 to retain their European crown and head coach Klopp has warned the Atleti players to expect a red hot atmosphere at Anfield on Wednesday.

Both teams have won three of the last six but, while Atleti are unbeaten with three draws, Liverpool lost their other three, including that 3-0 defeat to Premier League strugglers Watford.

But they have been unbeatable at Anfield recently, not losing at home in any competition for the last 42 games, dating back to 2018.

 

Betting Tip

??

Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid Atletico Madrid First Half Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 2.14
March 12, 04:00 (GMT+8)

Liverpool are at 1.58 to win this tie, with the draw at 3.90 and Los Rojiblancos are at 5.60 to silence the Anfield roar with a victory.

It’s going to be a hard fought game and Liverpool may need to be patient for their chance to turn this tie around.

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01-Apr 2020 Wednesday 1:49 PM (172 days ago)            #33
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Champions League: This Josip Bloke is Four-midable!

Valencia 3-4 Atalanta

If ever there was an advert for playing Champions League matches behind closed doors, this was it!

For as a neutral, it’s rare you see contests like this.

Step forward Josip Ilicic, the hero of the hour.

Not content with becoming the oldest player to score an away Champions League hat-trick, aged 32 years and 41 days, he added a fourth with nine minutes remaining to cap a superb individual display and fire Atalanta to the last eight of Europe’s top table.

They have now scored 28 goals in their last seven games and are the first debutants in the competition to reach the last eight since Leicester City three years ago.

What a shame that hardly anyone was in the ground to see it!

 

Highlights of the game

Atalanta reached the quarter-final of the Champions League following a 3-4 win over Valencia
Atalanta and Valencia players line up before the match in an empty Mestalla Stadium in Spain

If ever a Champions League match was over inside three minutes, this was also it.

For that is how long it took Atalanta to score, meaning the home side needed four goals simply to draw level.

And so, in what was already a strange atmosphere - with the match being played behind closed doors in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus - became even stranger for those of a home allegiance.

This was a further humbling for the hosts who lost the first leg 4-1 as the Italians, who are most unlikely of qualifiers for the last 16, easily secured their place in next week’s quarter-final draw.

It is a wonderful story and long may it continue.

Three minutes in and Atalanta were in front as Ilicic was fouled in the box by Mouctar Diakhaby before picking himself up and steering the spot-kick into the net.

Kevin Gameiro pulled one back, capitalising on some poor defending to fire home a 21st minute equaliser. But it was Atalanta who went in front again just before the break.

Again, it was Ilicic and again it was a penalty.

Again, Diakhaby was the culprit as he was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area and Ilicic kept his cool from 12 yards.

The action continued into the second period as Valencia clawed their way back again.

Just a minute after Atalanta midfielder Remo Freuler struck the crossbar with a long-range effort, impressive goal-getter Gameiro lost his marker and headed home a Ferran Torres cross.

Midway through the half, the hosts actually led as stand-in visiting goalkeeper Marco Sportiello came out to clear a Daniel Parejo through ball but was beaten to it by Torres who clipped a deft lob over his head and into the net.

There was never going to be any miraculous comeback, however, and if to prove the point Ilicic claimed his hat-trick and the match ball just moments later with a left footed shot following a quick counter-attack.

Still he wasn’t finished as he added his fourth with a left footed shot into the top left corner.

It was the best of the lot and Atalanta were dreamland.

This was their 11th goal in just two games.

Many of Europe’s big boys can take note of the approach and attitude displayed by Gian Piero Gasperini and his players.

The first time I recall hearing about Atalanta was 33 years ago when they played the Welsh minnows Merthyr Tydfil in Europe.

While they prevailed on that occasion, the Italians actually lost the first leg - a result which caused surprise and delight throughout parts of Britain.

This side, fourth in Serie A this term and finalists in last season’s Coppa Italia, are a very different outfit though and are going places.

Watch out for these Champions League post highlights and you’ll see why.



CLICK HERE


 

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

 

Key statistics

This was the first hat-trick by a Slovenian player in the Champions League. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (13) has scored as many goals as Ilicic (13) in all competitions in 2020 among the Serie A players.

Gameiro is the first player to score for three different Spanish teams in the Champions League (Sevilla – 1, Atlético Madrid – 3, Valencia, 2).

Around 2,000 Los Che fans went to the Mestalla Stadium before kick-off to show their support for the home players.

Only 250 people were allowed to attend the game, including media representatives, club employees, and security staff.

Valencia have given away six penalties in the Champions League since the beginning of last season, the most of any side.

 

What’s next?

The SBOBET Champions League betting odds will have to be put to one side for Atalanta for now. Yet their next match is likely to be a quarter-final.

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, all Serie A matches for the remainder of March have been postponed and the club is not due in domestic action again until their visit to Cagliari on April 4.

Valencia host Levante on Saturday March 14 before travelling to Real Madrid in La Liga the following weekend.

 

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01-Apr 2020 Wednesday 1:51 PM (172 days ago)            #34
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Champions League: Red Bull Brush Spurs Aside to Reach Last Eight

RB Leipzig 3-0 (4-0 on agg.) Tottenham

A first-half double courtesy of Marcel Sabitzer has taken Red Bull Leipzig through to the Champions League quarterfinals tonight with a well-earned win over Jose Mourinho’s Spurs.

Timo Werner’s penalty in London gave Red Bull a 0-1 advantage at the halfway stage, and that was tripled inside 20 minutes as Sabitzer put Spurs to the sword.

The pre-match SBOBET odds on Red Bull to win the second leg were at 1.61, but a quarter of the way through the evening those odds had shrunk out of sight.

Julian Nagelsmann’s side had a pretty comfortable evening all round as Spurs didn’t have any answer to the hosts’ early blitz. And when Emil Forsberg fired home a late third, that was just the icing on the cake.



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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

In tonight’s other Champions League 2020 news, Serie A side Atalanta confirmed their passage into the quarter-finals with an aggregate 4-8 win over Valencia (3-4 tonight). Josip Ilicic scored four for the Italians in a game played behind closed doors.

 

Highlights of the game

In a packed Red Bull Arena, the Spurs made a confident start and they could have leveled the tie on five minutes. But Erik Lamela was inches away from getting on the end of Dele Alli’s cross.

Their task became more imposing when Red Bull went ahead on ten minutes with a goal Hugo Lloris really should have saved. The Spurs stopper kept out Timo Werner’s fierce shot but when Marcel Sabitzer picked up the second chance, Lloris could only help it into the bottom corner.

Keeper and club captain Lloris is such an important figure at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but maybe he could have done better. And the same question was asked again ten minutes later when Sabizter doubled the lead.

A weak header from Serge Aurier handed possession to Angelino in the Spurs half, and his near post cross was guided past Lloris by Sabitzer with a neat header which beat the France keeper at his near post. Again, Lloris managed to get a hand to it but couldn’t keep the header out.

3-0 down and the Spurs had a mountain to climb.

Giovani Lo Celso transformed the game for Spurs in Saturday’s draw with Burnley, and he almost pulled a goal back just before half time with a brilliant turn and shot which Peter Gulacsi had to get down smartly to save.

Spurs faced mission impossible as they came out for the second half, even though Red Bull seemed to be settling for their first-half lead.

Just before the hour, Werner slid the ball through to Patrik Schick but he fired well over, and then Werner himself shot over from around 25 yards.

Spurs tried to keep the door open and Lucas Moura drove forward before pulling the ball back for Dele Alli but the England man shot straight at the Leipzig keeper.

And it was game well and truly over when substitute Emil Forsberg stabbed home the third of the night for Red Bull with his first touch, seconds after coming on.

Emil Forsberg put the cherry on top after scoring Leipzig's final goal in their Champions League clash against the Spurs
Emil Forsberg celebrates with Timo Werner after scoring their third goal in the Champions League clash against Tottenham

 

Key statistics

After an impressive win, Leipzig have extended their unbeaten run to seven games and they haven’t lost in any of their last 12 home matches.

But this heavy defeat has left Spurs without a win in five games in all competitions.

Mourinho hasn’t enjoyed the Champions League for some time. He hasn’t won any of his last eight Champions League knockout matches since coaching Chelsea back in 2014.

 

What’s next?

Take a look at the pre-match Champions League 2020 betting odds for this game and RB Leipzig were at 1.18 to advance to the quarter-finals, and in the aftermath that looked pretty generous!

Back to domestic matters, Leipzig are third in the Bundesliga table, a point behind Borussia Dortmund and five behind leaders FC Bayern.

Next up they have a home game against eighth-placed SC Freiburg before travelling to Mainz to face the 15th placed side. Nagelsmann will be looking for six points from these two games to keep his side in the hunt.

Now that they’re out of this season’s Champions League, the Spurs will hope to keep their slim top-four chances alive, and they have a huge game in the Premier League on Sunday when they host Manchester United.

The Red Devils are in fifth place and four points ahead of Spurs, so it’s a tough test for Mourinho against his former club.

The following week strugglers West Ham head to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. It’s a derby guaranteed to deliver passion and drama as the Hammers are desperate for points.

 

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01-Apr 2020 Wednesday 1:55 PM (172 days ago)            #35
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Champions League: Atleti Conquer Anfield

Liverpool 2-3 (2-4 on agg.) Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid pulled off a Champions League coup tonight, beating Liverpool thanks to three goals in extra time.

The pre-second leg SBOBET odds gave Atleti the edge at 1.86 to qualify, but when Roberto Firmino put the Reds 2-0 up, that looked unlikely.

But up stepped Marcos Llorente, who bagged a brace, and Alvaro Morata, who added a third, to round off a sensational night for Diego Simeone’s Atletico.

 

Highlights of the game

Saul Niguez’ fourth-minute strike in Madrid gave Los Rojiblancos a first-leg lead, and the visitors had a chance to go further ahead in the opening minute when captain Koke slid a ball through for Diego Costa. The former Chelsea striker fired his shot just wide, though.

The Anfield crowd loves these European nights and tried to lift their team. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fired a low shot towards the far corner, but Jan Oblak got down well to save. Then, Atleti had another chance from a corner, but Felipe glanced Koke’s cross just wide.

The home fans roared for a penalty when Sadio Mane’s header bounced off Felipe’s hand, but at point-blank range, he had no advantage and VAR judged in Atleti’s favour.

The Spaniards were defending as well as expected, keeping their shape when Liverpool broke, and Joao Felix won two fouls as the hosts’ frustration grew.

Sadio Mane had a great chance when Mo Salah evaded a challenge from Renan Lodi and squared to Mane on the edge of the box, but the Senegalese striker shot straight at Oblak when he had the time to pick his spot. Then, when Trent Alexander-Arnold fired a dangerous cross in, Firmino was inches away from getting a vital touch.

Defending Champions League winners Liverpool failed to defend their crown as they bow out of the tournament
Georginio Wijnaldum celebrates after scoring the first goal of the match right before the half

The Reds finally got their goal two minutes before the break. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hit an out-swinging cross, and Gini Wijnaldum met it with a header which skidded off the surface and past Oblak into the net.

With the tie on a knife-edge, both teams went for it in the second half. Oxlade-Chamberlain forced a good save from Oblak and, at the other end, Adrian had to save from Joao Felix and also made a block to deny Angel Correa.

Niguez tried to catch Adrian off his line from all of 60 yards and was only a few feet wide. And on 66 minutes, Andy Robertson met a cross from Salah and crashed his header against the bar.

Robertson had another chance on 82 minutes but he sliced his shot high and wide. Then, Salah almost scored a wonder goal, beating two defenders and cutting inside but he couldn’t keep his shot down. And as extra time loomed, Mane fired an overhead kick that was just too high.

In the last move of normal time, Saul headed home a Lodi cross but Liverpool were saved by the offside flag.

Anfield erupted again in the fourth minute of extra time when Gini Wijnaldum crossed for Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian’s header bounced back off the post and he reacted superbly to fire home the rebound.

But then the famous old ground fell silent. Just three minutes later, Adrian’s weak kick was collected by Felix, who put Marcos Llorente in and he shot low into the corner beyond the keeper’s despairing dive.

The Reds needed another goal, but things soon got worse for the home fans. It was Llorente again who found time and space to curl a 20-yard effort just inside the post to send the visiting fans and bench wild.

And when Alvaro Morata played a one-two with Llorente before slotting the ball past Adrian, it rounded off a famous night for Atletico.

 

Key statistics

The Reds really should have won this game in 90 minutes, raining 26 shots down on Atleti’s goal with nine on target, but Oblak stood firm. And Firmino’s extra-time goal was his first at Anfield this season. But it wasn’t to be Liverpool’s night as Llorente stunned the hosts.

 

What’s next?

In tonight’s other game, thousands of PSG fans gathered outside the Parc des Princes, armed with flares, to cheer on their team which faced Borussia Dortmund behind the closed doors.

They were picking up the Champions League 2020 updates on their phones and a mighty roar went up when Neymar put them ahead in the first half. Juan Bernat added a second to take the Parisians through.

The very latest Champions League 2020 betting odds had FC Bayern and Liverpool behind Manchester City as favourites, but on this evidence, I wouldn’t rule out Atleti.

Jurgen Klopp’s Reds have missed out on both domestic cups, so a long holiday looms once they have won the Premier League.

If Burnley can do the Reds a favour by beating Manchester City on Saturday, then it’s quite possible Liverpool could win their first league title in 30 years in the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park next Monday.

Los Rojiblancos have a battle on their hands to confirm a top-four place in La Liga. They currently sit in sixth place but are only two points behind Sevilla in third. Two away games against Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna, currently tenth and 11th and both with two wins in the last four, will pose a good test of Atleti’s top-four credentials.

But tonight…they celebrate!

 

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01-Apr 2020 Wednesday 2:00 PM (172 days ago)            #36
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Champions League: Neymar Delivers as PSG Dump Dortmund Out

Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 (3-2 on agg.) Borussia Dortmund

Paris Saint-Germain are back in the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in four years. The French champions overcame a 2-1 first-leg deficit -- and avoided more last-16 disappointment -- as they beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 at the Parc des Princes.

After scoring a crucial away goal in the first leg, Neymar once again starred as he scored the opening goal to put PSG on their way. Juan Bernat then claimed the crucial winning goal in first-half stoppage time.

 

Highlights of the game

The big Champions League 2020 news was that PSG, who were already without the suspended Marco Verratti and the injured captain Thiago Silva, were also missing superstar Kylian Mbappe.

The French star missed a few days of training after a coronavirus scare. While his test came back negative for the virus, he only started on the bench as Pablo Sarabia partnered Edinson Cavani up front with Neymar and Angel Di Maria in behind.

But despite those absentees, the Champions League 2020 odds still had the Parisians priced as significant favourites to win at home.

The match was a slow burn to start, though. The first notable chance for either side came on 18 minutes. Achraf Hakimi got free on the Dortmund right, but he couldn't quite find Erling Braut Haaland with his cross into the six-yard box.

Shortly thereafter, Jadon Sancho attempted an ambitious volley from the edge of the penalty area, but he sliced it wide of goal.

PSG had their first real sight on goal on 25 minutes, and they really should have scored from it. Cavani was clear through on goal, but Dortmund keeper Roman Burki made an excellent save with his leg to send the shot agonisingly wide.

However, PSG would eventually take the lead minutes later as Neymar got on the end of a corner and headed home. It was some poor marking from Hakimi, who lost track of the dangerous Brazilian on the far post.

Dortmund attempted to hit back through Sancho, but the English teen was denied twice by PSG keeper Keylor Navas.

The Germans were mere moments from going into the break with a chance to regroup when disaster struck. A brilliant Paris passing move saw a couple of Spaniards combine as full-back Juan Bernat broke into the box and redirected Sarabia's cross into the net.

Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho attempts to volley against Paris Saint-Germain in Champions League
Jadon Sancho reacts after a missed chance to score for Borussia Dortmund

PSG nearly added a third goal to their advantage nine minutes after the break. Angel Di Maria's free-kick looked destined for the top corner, but Burki did well to parry it away for a corner.

 Dortmund needed just one goal to send the tie to extra time, but they struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities and were reduced to speculative shots from distance that didn't trouble Navas.

And any hope Dortmund had of coming up with a late goal went up in smoke a couple of minutes from full-time. Emre Can committed a hard foul on Neymar and had some more words after, which the other PSG players took exception to. PSG captain Marquinhos raced over to confront Can as a melee broke loose between the two sides.

When things calmed down a bit, referee Anthony Taylor booked three PSG players and handed a stunned Can a straight red.

That was all she wrote for Dortmund, who crashed out is somewhat disappointing fashion after showing such promise in the first leg.

 

Key statistics

Dortmund just about edged out the home side in terms of possession (53 per cent to 47) and total shots (11-8), which is unsurprising considering they had to chase the match for the entire second half. However, they struggled to test Navas in PSG's goal as they had just two shots on target.

Sancho was Dortmund's most dangerous player as he had three total shots and both of their shots on goal.

But Haaland was unable to create any Champions League 2020 highlights as he disappointingly had no shots the entire match. The 19-year-old has now failed to score in each of his last three appearances (two starts).

 

What's next?

Barring a postponement of the Champions League, PSG will play the first leg of their quarter-final tie on April 7 or 8. They must also wait until next week to find out their opponents for the last eight as the quarter-final draw will be held on March 20.

But before all of that, it's back to Ligue 1 duty for PSG this weekend as they host Nice at home.

As for Dortmund, they will now put their full attention toward the Bundesliga title race after their European exit. Dortmund will host the Revierderby against rivals Schalke this weekend, which will be massive.

BVB have had a lot of struggles against Schalke in recent years, though, so despite the SBOBET odds having them as 1.39 favourites, it might not be such an easy match.

 

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01-Apr 2020 Wednesday 2:03 PM (172 days ago)            #37
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Champions League: Big Changes Are Coming

Another football event takes the backseat yet again as the Champions League is also postponed due to the coronavirus threat just like the Euro 2020, which was moved to next year.

Some European nations, if not all, are currently on lockdown because of this ongoing pandemic, leaving fans starving for some football action. Domestic leagues such as the Bundesliga, Premier League, Serie A, and La Liga have already set their competitions on hold.

“In the light of developments due to the spread of COVID-19 in Europe and related decisions made by different governments, all UEFA club competitions matches scheduled this week are postponed,” said the UEFA committee in an official statement.

“This includes the remaining UEFA Champions League round of 16 second-leg matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020; all UEFA Europa League round of 16 second-leg matches scheduled on 19 March 2020; and all UEFA Youth League quarter-final matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020.”

“As a consequence of the postponements, the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League quarter-final draws scheduled for 20 March have also been postponed. Further decisions on when these matches take place will be communicated in due course,” the statement ended.

It remains unclear on when the games will finally resume especially since things are all up in the air. Manchester City’s second leg tie versus Real Madrid was scheduled to go ahead last Tuesday but that was one of the first matches to be postponed. Since then, all other remaining matches followed suit.

Manchester City have an edge over Real Madrid after winning their Champions League last 16 first leg match
Manchester City players celebrate after winning 2-1 against Real Madrid during their Champions League last 16 first leg clash

With this said, the UEFA board had already considered implementing certain contingency plans for the tournament when they hosted a video conference last Tuesday involving 55 UEFA members, the boards of the European Club Association and the European Leagues, and a representative from Fifpro, a world players’ union.

 

What are the options?

The UEFA board has reportedly considered two things for the competition. One is for them to hold one-legged ties as opposed to the usual two-legged, home-and-home series from the Round of 16 all the way through the semifinals in order to expedite the tournament.

This way, UEFA can determine winners right away, which means that some clubs would have a distinct disadvantage of without even playing a single home game. However, several reports indicate that existing ties are expected to be completed since other teams like Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Lyon, Napoli, and Barcelona have yet to play their second legs in the Round of 16.

They also might consider holding the said games in various neutral venues. However, the board would be hard pressed to finding countries willing to host big events like these on such a short notice.

Concerns regarding finances and public safety quickly come into mind should they hold games to neutral venues, which might get them back to square one.

Another plan to be considered is by holding a mini-tournament in order to ease fixture congestion brought about by the coronavirus. The mini-tournament will probably start from the quarterfinals and the remaining teams will play it over a handful of days concentrated in Istanbul, Turkey so that it would cut down travels and disruption of the competition.

 

What will be the impact should these plans happen?

Games would matter even more after the Round of 16, as these teams will play in a tighter schedule. In fact, several sources have reported that the UEFA board would push the final date to June 27 to ensure that the showpiece club competition will end just in time for the summer.

The final date is initially scheduled on May 30 but the coronavirus forced the UEFA committee to push it to the said later date.

Physical fatigue might turn out to be a huge factor for teams who have yet to finish their Round of 16 ties because of the tight schedule. And at the same time, most of these clubs are currently on a hiatus because their domestic leagues were put on hold.

That will obviously affect their Champions League 2020 odds in winning the championship putting these all into consideration.

RB Leipzig, Atalanta, Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint- Germain have already booked their spots in the quarterfinals as they await for their next opponents.

Hopefully, this coronavirus pandemic will be put to a stop sooner or later so that SBOBET fans can get to witness more Champions League 2020 highlights.

And once we get our sports back, we will have a deeper appreciation for the beautiful game a whole lot more!

 

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03-Apr 2020 Friday 7:00 PM (170 days ago)            #38
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Champions League’s Biggest Upsets

We love underdogs, and the Champions League has thrown up plenty of shock results over the past two decades, so the team here at SBOBET have picked out five of the best.

 

Mourinho’s Porto conquers Europe 2004

A little known Jose Mourinho guided Porto to the 2004 Champions League title to stun the football world and hail him as a special manager. Those days may seem a distant memory to Jose now, having just watched his Spurs side dumped out of the 2020 Champions League Round of 16 by Red Bull Leipzig.

But back in the day, and against all odds, he followed up Porto’s 2003 UEFA Cup triumph with the biggest prize in Europe. The Portuguese side had already beaten Deportivo La Coruna, Lyon and Manchester United before they encountered Monaco in the final in Gelsenkirchen, and there they swept aside the French team with a 3-0 victory.

The campaign was a glimpse of what was to come from Mourinho, his side included two defenders, Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira, who he took to Chelsea, and the midfield genius of Deco who went on to Barcelona the following season.

Porto had a decent forward line but their strength was undoubtedly in their organisation and solidity.

 

Liverpool’s second-half fightback in the 2005 final

Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (Liverpool win 3-2 on Penalties)

Rafa Benitez became an Anfield legend in 2005 when he guided the Reds to a Champions League title which looked almost impossible at half time in the Istanbul final. Milan had taken a firm grip on the cup with a 3-0 lead, thanks to a Paulo Maldini volley and a brace from Hernan Crespo just before the break.

But, backed by thousands of Liverpool fans in a deafening atmosphere, the Reds came roaring back with three goals in six minutes. First Steven Gerrard scored with a looping header and then the Premier League side started to believe when Vladimir Smicr scored with a low skidding shot. Minutes later Gennaro Gattuso fouled Gerrard, and when Xabi Alonso’s spot-kick was saved he tapped in the rebound to spark bedlam in the stadium.

Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek was the hero of the penalty shootout, saving shots by the excellent Andrea Pirlo and the lethal Andriy Shevchenko.

The Reds are out of this year’s competition, falling to Atletico Madrid at the first knockout hurdle, but that famous night in Istanbul will forever remain in the memory.

Atletico Madrid progress to the Champions League quarter-finals after winning against Liverpool

Marcos Llorente celebrates after scoring Atletico Madrid’s second goal against Liverpool

 

Three of Europe’s aristocracy cut down to size

Brondby 2-1 Bayern Munich (1998)

Bayern Munich have been one of the giants of the Champions League since its inception and fully expected to beat Brondby when they arrived in Copenhagen, but they had one heck of a shock on Matchday one.

The Danes put up a good fight with a stout defence, but when Markus Babbel struck late in the game they looked dead and buried; but not so. Two goals in the 88th and 89th minutes, the second a brilliant effort from Allan Ravn, gave the Brondby fans a night they still talk about.

That was the last game they won in the 1998/9 competition as they went on to concede 18 goals, while Bayern were to suffer a similar fate in the final when Manchester United scored two late goals.

 

AS Monaco 3-1 Real Madrid (2004)

Los Blancos took a first-leg 4-2 lead to the principality of Monaco but were stunned by a second-half onslaught which fired the French team through to the semi-finals. Current Real boss Zinedine Zidane was in the favourite’s ranks and they were fully expected to go on and win the 2004 title.

Real went 5-2 up on aggregate, but a goal from Ludovic Giuly just before the break kept Monaco hopes alive. And when Fernando Morientes fired in a second against his old club that paved the way for Giuly to round off the comeback and send Monaco through.

Of course, Real Madrid have won plenty of European crowns since that humiliation, and the latest Champions League 2020 news and gossip, as we wait for a resumption in play, is a question of whether they can turn things around against Manchester City, after losing the first leg 1-2.

 

Celtic 2-1 Barcelona (2012)

In a raucous Celtic Park under the floodlights, Neil Lennon’s Celtic sent Barcelona packing, Lionel Messi and all. With a record low possession share of less than 17 per cent, the hoops stunned the Blaugrana thanks to an opener from Victor Wanyama and a second from Tom Watt.

Barca’s Andres Iniesta and Dani Alves dominated the ball, but they couldn’t find a way through the Celtic defence until Messi scored a late consolation.

The win helped the SPL side through to the Round of 16 where they were thumped 5-0 by Juventus, but the journey to get there was spectacular.

Back in the present, the latest Champions League 2020 betting odds hold the Blaugrana up as favourites to win it, alongside Manchester City, and I bet they’re pleased they don’t have to head to Glasgow again!

 

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03-Apr 2020 Friday 7:01 PM (170 days ago)            #39
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Famous Champions League Comebacks

We get the most dramatic climax, the most deafening roar from the crowd and the most hearts broken in a stadium when a late fight-back changes the expected result.

And when these moments happen on the biggest stage, they are magnified tenfold. We’re hoping for a Champions League comeback of a different kind as we await news from UEFA as to any scheduled resumption of Europe’s premier competition. But in the meantime, let’s take a look at three of the greatest turnarounds in Champions League history.

Atleti’s stunning comeback to beat Liverpool was one of the big Champions League 2020 results so far this season, but there have been even higher dramas in times gone by.

 

Barcelona 6-1 (6-5 on agg.) Paris Saint-Germain (2017)

For the biggest ever comeback in Champions League history we only have to look back three years and head to the Camp Nou, where Barcelona were all but out of the competition with two minutes left on the clock. They arrived in Catalonia with a huge deficit have taken a 4-0 beating by a ruthless Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes.

Luis Suarez gave Barca a glimmer of hope with a clever header and, after Layvin Kurzawa had put through his own net, a Messi penalty early in the second half prompted bedlam in the Camp Nou. The home fans went quiet when Edinson Cavani smashed home a fifth goal for the Parisiens; but Barca laid siege to the visitors’ goal and a brace from Neymar, followed by a 95th-minute Sergi Roberto strike sent the Catalans into dreamland.

 

Liverpool 4-0 (4-3 on agg.) Barcelona (2019)

If we can get this season’s campaign on again the Champions League 2020 betting odds here at SBOBET will place the Blaugrana alongside Manchester City as the tournament favourites. But last season’s semi-final will serve as a warning to Barca that things can also go disastrously wrong.

Heading to Anfield with a three-goal advantage, thanks to yet another master class from Messi and Suarez, and with Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino absent from the Reds’ line-up, Barcelona were expected to coast through to the final. But the Liverpool crowd never gives up hope and the Kop roared when Divock Origi scored after just seven minutes. The momentum was with Jurgen Klopp’s side and a quick-fire double by midfield ace Gini Wijnaldum put them level with over half an hour to go.

And it was Origi again who sparked wild celebration in the Merseyside crowd when he doubled his own tally ten minutes from time. It was a reminder for Liverpool fans of some famous European nights, none more so than a 2005 clash with AC Milan. The Reds pulled off one of the best Champions League final comebacks of all time, but there was one final climax which eclipsed even that great night in Istanbul.

 

Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich (1999)

Current Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer describes the 1999 Champions League final as the ‘best night of his life’ after he scored a dramatic winner against Bayern deep into injury time. Alex Ferguson’s side was aiming for a historic treble, having already won the Premier League and the FA Cup, and he had four top-class strikers to call on. Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke’s goals had fired United to domestic glory, but in the Champions League final it was the turn of Teddy Sheringham and OGS.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer win the Champions League for Manchester United after scoring the winning goal against Bayern Munich in 1999 final

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer acknowledges Manchester United supporters

The Red Devils had already beaten Inter Milan and Juventus on the way to the final at the Camp Nou, but when Mario Basler gave the Germans an early lead they were up against it. Bayern dominated for long periods and hit the woodwork twice as they searched for the killer blow, but it didn’t come. And when Sheringham slid the ball past Oliver Kahn in injury time the tide turned both rapidly and devastatingly for Bayern.

Manchester United won a corner and their fans raised the roof. David Beckham swung the dead ball kick into the danger area and Sheringham rose highest to head towards goal, and there was the baby-faced assassin to stick out a book and divert the ball into the roof of the net.

It was a night United fans reminisce about at the slightest opportunity and who can blame them? But it was a two-minute blitz the Bundesliga giants would rather forget.

 

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29-Apr 2020 Wednesday 4:11 PM (144 days ago)            #40
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Champions League: Haaland and Mbappe Should be the Next Big Thing

One of the most anticipated Champions League matchups is the one between Borussia Dortmund and PSG because they have two of the best young footballers in the world right now.

Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe are wunderkinds that are very much capable of producing the best Champions League 2020 highlights, and pundits would be wise to keep track on these two as they continue to develop.

Although PSG got the better of their German counterparts this time to advance to the next round, it took them a Herculean effort from Neymar to defy the Champions League 2020 odds considering they were facing a deficit in their first go-around.

The two aforementioned youngsters were instrumental to their club’s respective attacks, and for sure this won’t be the last time that they’ll get to meet in one of football’s biggest stages.

Could this become the next big matchup a la Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi? Allow SBOBET to try and examine why this might be the next big thing.

 

A look on Mbappe and Haaland’s early success

Kylian Mbappe is quite an achiever already despite being only 21. The speedy striker is part of the French national team that won the 2018 World Cup back in Russia.

Upon being promoted to the senior team, Mbappe made his impact felt right away by becoming the youngest French goalscorer in World Cup history at age 19. He would score his first-ever World Cup goal in their Group C victory against Peru plus he netted one more goal in France’s 4-2 final victory against Croatia.

Mbappe’s early success had already put himself in great company. By scoring a goal in the final, Mbappe became the second teenage player after Pele to achieve such feat.

Few years later, Mbappe would continue to make plays for his home country. He would go on to score his 100th goal for the club during the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

In Ligue 1, Mbappe was acquired by perennial contenders PSG on a loan from Monaco, making him arguably the most expensive teenager ever to be transferred within the domestic league. And it’s safe to say that the French champions got the most out of that signing.

As he continued to rack up goals and assists, Mbappe would gather several individual accolades along the way. In his first year with PSG, the youngster would win the inaugural Kopa Trophy, which is awarded by France Football to the best young player in the world.

In the following season, Mbappe would be Ligue 1’s top goalscorer by notching 33 goals along with winning the Player of the Year award and one more title for his team.

Haaland, on the other hand, would follow a similar path to Mbappe’s although there aren’t much titles to brag yet on his part.

The Norwegian is already an adept striker by the time he started his professional career. After playing for Bryne and Molde in his home country, Haaland would find his way to Red Bull Salzburg where he would have his meteoric rise.

Haaland would drop hat-tricks left and right upon making his debut for Red Bull, which led to him scoring 11 goals in just seven appearances. And then he would take his act in the Champions League where he netted six goals in his first three appearances in the competition.

Erling Haaland scored 10 goals this season in Champions League

Erling Haaland celebrates scoring against Paris Saint-Germain

Soon after, Haaland would make his transfer to Borussia Dortmund during the last winter break – where everything he touched would turn into gold.

Scoring records were made almost every night for this kid. But more importantly, he would help them win games as well. Haaland would form a dangerous attacking combo with Jadon Sancho as Dortmund would improve their record in the Bundesliga standings after an early setback.

 

What’s next for these two standouts?

The Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi debate continues to rage on despite both of them approaching past their primes. But while fans are still bickering on who’s the better player between the two, it is hard to not notice the emergence of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe.

The two have played spectacular football over these last few years. Kylian Mbappe has been a vital cog for PSG in their title run in Ligue 1, while Erling Haaland has been a goal machine both in Austria and Germany.

And while we’ve seen a glimpse of a potential rivalry down the road between these two, the only way we could see them go at it more is if they play in the same domestic league.

Erling Haaland has been long linked to a possible move to Manchester United while Kylian Mbappe is also being eyed by Liverpool. And should these respective clubs succeed in getting these two on transfers, it will definitely unlock a new rivalry for the world to witness.

 

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29-Apr 2020 Wednesday 4:19 PM (144 days ago)            #41
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Champions League: Proposed Final Date, Possible Qualifying Playoffs

The wait for the Champions League to resume its season — which is now in the knockout stage — continues.

In the meantime, UEFA has been busy setting plans for its possible return and already has a date for the final pencilled in. They’ve also laid down guidelines for how the different leagues can decide qualification for European competitions next season.

Meanwhile, Liverpool’s Champions League match with Atletico Madrid is set to be investigated for its possible impact on the coronavirus outbreak.

As always, SBOBET is here to break down all the key updates surrounding Europe’s premier club tournament.

 

UEFA targeting August 29 for Champions League final

Fans look forward to see the outcome of the Champions League tie between Real Madrid and Manchester City

Manager Pep Guardiola with Sergio Aguero during the Manchester Derby in the Premier League

UEFA is still hopeful that the 2019-20 season will be able to resume following the pause in play due to the pandemic.

According to the BBC’s Simon Stone, their plan is to have the Champions League final held in Istanbul on August 29.

There are two potential formats being considered to make that date. The first is to play the quarter-finals and semi-finals as two-legged matches as normal, in July and August.

The second would be for the games to be played as one-legged affairs after the end of the domestic seasons, which could result in a condensed week-long mini-tournament.

Earlier Champions League 2020 results saw Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig, Atalanta, and Atletico Madrid make their way through to the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, the Real Madrid-Manchester City, Chelsea-Bayern Munich, Napoli-Barcelona, and Lyon-Juventus ties still have to play their respective second legs.

It would make sense for the Champions League to limit the number of games and reduce the amount of work that would be necessary to pull those games off.

Moreover, it would be interesting to see the Champions League return to the single-elimination format of the old European Cup.

However, it still seems optimistic for UEFA to hope that they can end the season by the end of August. A lot of things can still change surrounding the whole pandemic situation, and UEFA will have to adjust.

 

Possible playoffs for Champions League qualification

After meeting on August 23, UEFA made it clear in their statement that completing domestic seasons in their original formats remains “the ideal scenario.”

But if it isn’t possible to play out the season in full, then UEFA would prefer the leagues to come up with a “different format” and stressed that qualification for next season’s European competitions can only be “based on sporting merit.”

That statement from UEFA has opened up the possibility of a playoff format being used to decide which clubs would get their league’s European places.

The Bundesliga and Serie A are stepping up efforts to get their respective seasons back up and running. But La Liga

Despite disagreement from fans, the Bundesliga is planning return on May 9. Meanwhile, the Italian prime minister has confirmed teams will be allowed to resume training with the hope that the league could resume by the end of May or the start of June.

However, La Liga still hasn’t made public plans for a potential restart to its season. The race for La Liga’s last two Champions League spots is very tight, with Sevilla, Real Sociedad, Getafe, and Atletico Madrid separated by just two points. A potential playoff involving those four teams would make for an interesting spectacle.

 

Liverpool-Atletico Madrid match to be investigated

The Liverpool city council is set to investigate the Champions League second leg match between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid and its possible impact on the coronavirus situation.

The move comes after the mayor of Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, called for an independent inquiry into whether the match should have taken place.

Liverpool’s stunning defeat to Atletico Madrid at Anfield was the last big football match played in England before the coronavirus shutdown.

There were already calls for the match to be called off, with Madrid already under partial lockdown. But the match still took place as scheduled, with around 3,000 Atleti fans making the trip to Anfield.

In hindsight, that match probably should not have taken place given how hard both England and Spain were struck by the pandemic. The continuation of large gatherings like football matches likely didn’t help efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

The probe won’t change the fact that Atletico defied the Champions League 2020 odds to knock the holders out. However, it could go some way toward preventing a similar mistake from happening again.

 

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25-Jun 2020 Thursday 7:47 PM (87 days ago)            #42
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Champions League: Can These Teams Ever Win?

It’s the stage on which the very best players in the world strut their stuff, the pinnacle of a head coach’s career, and the most memorable fan experiences under the floodlights.

For sheer pageantry and drama, the Champions League is up there with the biggest sporting events on the planet and for certain clubs, it’s the most coveted silverware which has yet to adorn their trophy cabinet.

Before football came to an abrupt halt back in March, a look at the Champions League 2020 betting odds here at SBOBET would have revealed most of the usual suspects.

At the top end of the odds list, you would see Barcelona and Juventus with seven Champions League titles between them. But then there are three other teams with the combined total of none.

Two of these three are under increasing pressure to deliver on the European stage by virtue of their billionaire status, while a third has lived in the shadow of its illustrious neighbour for far too long.

 

Manchester City

Having given up on the 2019/20 Premier League, it seems that Manchester City’s focus is now on the Champions League.

Head coach Pep Guardiola won the trophy twice as manager of Barcelona. But in his fourth season at the Etihad with the backing of Sheikh Mansour, he is yet to win the European crown for City.

The Sky Blues were agonisingly close to breaking their European duck last season but were denied by the away goals rule and VAR in a semifinal against Spurs.

At 4-4, City thought they had won the tie in a dramatic finish but Raheem Sterling’s goal was ruled out by the technology.

Spurs went on to surrender meekly to Liverpool in the final while Manchester City fans were left wondering what might have been as their team scooped the domestic treble.

The last time City won a European trophy was half a century ago when they beat Polish outfit Gornik Zabrze in the 1970 UEFA Cup Winners Cup.

Since then, they have watched neighbours Manchester United win the Champions League twice and this season’s competition has taken on more significance still as the Sky Blues prepare to fight a ban from next year’s Champions League due to allegations of financial irregularities.

 

Paris Saint – Germain

Like Manchester City, PSG is a rich club owned by Qatar Sports Investments – the vehicle of Qatar ruler Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani. The cash flowed in at the start of the 2011/12 season and by the end of 2019, the Paris club had the fifth highest revenue in the football world.

Thomas Tuchel’s side has already been awarded the Ligue 1 title, the seventh such triumph in the Qatari era. But they have yet to win Europe’s major prize, settling again like City, for a Cup Winners Cup triumph in 1996.

They have struggled to break through a glass ceiling at the last eight stage. They reached four consecutive quarter-finals, losing every time, and have failed to reach that stage in recent seasons.

Just before the competition stopped in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Parisians advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in four years with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Borussia Dortmund. Neymar scored the opener and then Juan Bernat delivered the winner in first half stoppage time.

Take a look at the PSG squad. Alongside Neymar, Tuchel can play 2018 World Cup sensation Kylian Mbappe and the team is littered with talent with Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani, and Thomas Meunier.

It’s time for the Parisians to finally deliver.

 

Atletico Madrid

Diego Simeone’s Atletico have lived in the shadow of Real Madrid for decades as Los Blancos have helped themselves to a record 13 Champions Leagues, and two of them at Atleti’s expense.

In the 2014 final, Los Rojiblancos faced Real and led deep into injury time before Sergio Ramos equalised, and then they eventually lost 1-4 in extra time.

In 2016, they faced their neighbours again and this time Diego Simeone’s side lost on penalties after a 1-1 draw. They are having another go in this campaign having already dumped champions Liverpool out of the cup in the Round of 16.

Marcos Llorente spearheads Atletico Madrid in beating Liverpool during their Champions League head to head

Atletico Madrid’s Marcos Llorente celebrates after scoring a goal during their Champions League clash against Liverpool

With the Reds 2-0 up in the second half Los Rojiblancos suddenly found another gear. Marcos Llorente scored twice and Alvaro Morata added a third as Atleti rounded off a spectacular evening at Anfield. That was one of the biggest Champions League 2020 results of the campaign and might just push the Madrid side on to another final.

Fans in Manchester, Paris, and Madrid might all think that this might just be their time. Los Rojiblancos and PSG are already in the last eight and the Sky Blues have the upper hand in their Round of 16 tie against Real Madrid.

Could 2020 be the year for a new champion?

 

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25-Jun 2020 Thursday 7:50 PM (87 days ago)            #43
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This Champions League is City’s Holy Grail

We’re getting back to normal, slowly but surely, and the return of football has given us plenty to talk about. FC Bayern have already won the Bundesliga while Liverpool inch closer to the Premier League.

Over in Spain, Real Madrid have drawn level with Barcelona while in Italy, Juventus and Lazio are set to renew their epic contest. And when all these issues are done and dusted, we have European football to enjoy before we even think about the 2020/21 season!

The 2020 Champions League is set to be concluded as a mini-tournament, with the quarter-finals beginning on 12th August and the final scheduled for Sunday 23rd, but there are still a few Round of 16 matters to be settled.

 

Manchester City’s fate to be revealed in July

English champions Manchester City are preparing to hand their league title over to Liverpool, but they have a much bigger problem to ponder than that. The Premier League has been in Liverpool’s hands since Christmas, so City have re-focussed on the cup competitions, particularly their Holy Grail of the Champions League.

The Sky Blues have one foot in the quarter-finals, but their biggest battle is off the field as they await the ruling of the UEFA Court of Arbitration, after they appealed the two year ban slapped on them as a punishment for alleged financial fairness breaches.

City have protested their innocence and put their case, and now they must wait for the court to decide their fate. The announcement is due early in July, and should a ban, possibly reduced to one year, still be imposed then this year’s competition takes on a much bigger significance for Pep Guardiola and his players.

 

Where we left off

So let’s recap where we were before the coronavirus outbreak put a sudden stop to football.

Marcos Llorente scores a goal to lead Atletico Madrid over Liverpool in Champions League

Atletico Madrid’s Marcos Llorente celebrates after scoring a winning goal against Liverpool during a Champions League match

Atleti’s stunning win over Liverpool, 2-3 at Anfield and 2-4 on aggregate, means that Diego Simeone’s team join Atalanta, who dumped Valencia out, and Red Bull Leipzig who outclassed Tottenham Hotspur over two legs. Paris Saint Germain make up the four who have already booked their place, having overturned a first leg deficit against Borussia Dortmund.

PSG, like Manchester City, have failed to break through the glass ceiling of Europe’s premier competition but it looks like they’ll have four more big players to take on.

The Sky Blues are favourites to see off Real Madrid, after a Kevin de Bruyne master class gave them a 1-2 win at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Juventus are a goal behind against Lyon, but should be able to overturn that in the second leg and, equally, I’d back Barcelona to navigate their second leg against Napoli, having drawn the first 1-1 in Naples.

Meanwhile, German champions FC Bayern are as good as there, having taken Chelsea apart at Stamford Bridge, and have a three goal start for the second leg.

 

How have the big guns started?

Manchester City have returned to action in the Premier League and were impressive when they dismantled Arsenal last Wednesday. The Sky Blues are yet to win the Champions League and that is clearly their focus now. The Champions League 2020 betting odds have consistently pitched Pep Guardiola’s team as favourites, but there are some European experts to beat if they are to finally win the tournament.

FC Bayern could be the team to beat. Hansi Flick’s side has been in superb form since the return, having already sealed an eighth successive league title. Striker Robert Lewandowski seems to be getting better and better. The Pole became the most prolific foreign goal scorer in Bundesliga history when he bagged his 33rd goal of the season as Bayern swept SC Freiburg aside for their 12th successive victory.

Red Bull Leipzig have been hit and miss, winning two of their last six games, and losing to Borussia Dortmund at the weekend, and they still have plenty of work to do to guarantee a place in next year’s competition.

Barcelona have won two and drawn one of their three games, a goalless stalemate with Sevilla letting Real Madrid back into the title race.

Football is well underway in the four big leagues, it’s going to be non-stop for the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for the latest SBOBETodds as we bring you the hot Champions League 2020 updates as and when they happen.

It’s a great time to be a football fan and hopefully we’ll get back in the grounds before too long. In the meantime, enjoy the games safely.strong>

 

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15-Jul 2020 Wednesday 2:10 PM (67 days ago)            #44
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Champions League: Seven Stars to Watch In the Comeback

Europe’s big four domestic leagues have returned to action safely and successfully and we’ve already seen some fantastic action.

The Bundesliga and Premier League titles are done and dusted, with FC Bayern and Liverpool lifting their respective crowns in emphatic style, while the races carry on in Serie A and La Liga.

And the top class football just keeps on coming.

 
We’re half way through the Champions League Round of 16 and the cream of European football are set to renew hostilities, with the outstanding ties set to be completed on 7th and 8th of August, and the final scheduled for August 23rd.

And today’s quarterfinal draw has thrown up some mouth-watering clashes, with the potential pairing of Barcelona and Bayern the tie of the round.

Some of the best players on the planet will be on show, so let’s take a look at seven who could easily light up the return of European football.

Robert Lewandowski

The German champions’ Polish hit man has quite simply been the standout performer in European football since the return of action following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Bayern were relentless in their pursuit of the Bundesliga title and wrapped it up in style with a 4-0 win over Wolfsburg.
And Lewandowski was in scintillating form, winning the Golden Boot with a huge total of 34 goals. He also scored twice as Die Bayern saw off Bayer Leverkusen in the German Cup final to keep their hopes of a treble alive.

They are three up against Chelsea after a dominant first leg of their Round of 16 tie and I can’t see the German giants blowing that!

Phil Foden

The Champions League 2020 betting odds have Bayern and Manchester City as joint favourites to lift the trophy, with Barcelona as the other likely champion.

But this Champions League probably means more to Manchester City than their rivals, for two reasons.

First, they have never won the competition and secondly, subject to the outcome of their legal battle with UEFA, the Sky Blues might well be missing from the 2020/21 tournament.

Pep Guardiola’s side has a first leg lead over Real Madrid and should progress.

20-year-old Phil Foden has been outstanding for City, setting the tone with a man-of-the-match performance in their 5-0 destruction of Burnley, scoring a superb brace in the process.

He’s heading for a spectacular career for club and country and already looks ready to replace David Silva as the Sky Blues’ creative leader.

If City navigate their clash with Real Madrid, they will play the winners of Juventus and Lyon, and Foden will relish every challenge that comes his way.

Manchester City are determined to lift the Champions League trophy this 2019/20 season with Phil Foden on their side

Phil Foden celebrates scoring Manchester City’s fifth goal against Burnley at the Etihad Stadium

Ansu Fati

We could have picked any one or two from the four of Barcelona’s strikers. Aside from the great Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann have returned to form in recent weeks.

But here at SBOBET we’ve been watching the Blaugrana’s 17-year-old sensation very closely.

He provides width and pace to Barca’s attack with mesmeric control of the ball and an eye for a goal. The youngster scored against Real Betis at the age of 16 years and 298 days to break a La Liga record and he could be the man to fill Messi’s shoes in the fullness of time.

Barca are level with Napoli after the first leg and are expected to navigate that tie to take their place in the last eight, with the big clash with Bayern next on the agenda.

Josip Ilicic

Atalanta’s Slovenian star, Josip Ilicic, made the Round of 16 headlines when he scored four second leg goals in the Italians’ 8-4 destruction of Valencia.

And he’ll fancy more against PSG in the quarterfinals, with the French league was suspended so he’ll hope to catch the Parisians cold.

The attacking midfielder is the joint sixth top scorer in Serie A with 15 goals, and has inspired Atalanta to reach third place in the league, just two points behind Lazio and pretty much guaranteed of a Champions League place again next season.

Timo Werner

This Bundesliga side is already through to the quarter finals after sweeping Spurs aside 4-0 on aggregate.

They have a winnable draw against Atletico Madrid in the last eight and they have a hit man in great form to push them deeper into the competition.

With 28 goals and eight assists in the Bundesliga, Timo Werner would have won the Golden Boot had he not been up against the great Lewandowski, and he would love to head to his new club Chelsea with a European medal.

Don’t write Die Roten Bullen off.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

Okay, two of our picks are Barca players but you can’t possibly leave either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo out of our Magnificent Seven.

Ronaldo looks likely to pick up another Scudetto medal as the Old Lady has moved seven points clear at the top, and he’s not yet out of the race for the Capocannoniere, three behind Ciro Immobile with 26 goals to his name.

And while Barca are facing an uphill battle to stop Real Madrid in La Liga, Messi will win the Golden Boot again. He has 22 goals, five more than his nearest rival, and 19 assists to his name.

Both will write more Champions League 2020 news headlines before the end of summer, you can be sure of that.

Quarterfinal Draw in Full

Man City/Real Madrid vs Juventus/Lyon

Red Bull Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid

Barcelona/Napoli vs Bayern/Chelsea

Atalanta vs Paris Saint Germain

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11-Aug 2020 Tuesday 1:55 PM (40 days ago)            #45
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Champions League: Pick a Winner!

Europe’s football flagship is setting sail again this week folks. Yes, the Champions League is back and the latest Champions League 2020 betting odds are up and running.

So who’s it going to be this year? There are 12 teams left in the competition with four already through to the quarter finals and eight still to play a Round of 16 second leg.

The most successful sides in European football, including Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, and FC Bayern are still in the competition, while Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain hope to win their first European crown.

It all leads up to a showcase final at the Estadio do Sport in Lisbon on 23rd August. So in the meantime, let’s run the rule over the final 12 and pick a winner.

Who will make the last four?

PSG, Atalanta, Red Bull Leipzig, and Atletico Madrid are already through to the quarterfinals, with Atleti’s stunning victory over Liverpool the highlight of the round so far.

Diego Simeone’s side meet Red Bull, who were victors over Spurs, in the next round and are priced at 1.60 to progress with the Bundesliga side at 2.35.

PSG are fancied to make the last four at odds of 1.66 to beat Atalanta. The Serie A side had a storming end to their season and won’t be easy to beat, available at 2.25 to progress.

And the French giants will probably be without their main striker.

Champions League: Mauro Icardi is expected to step up along with Neymar in the absence of Kylian Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe suffered an ankle injury during their Coupe de France final victory over Saint-Etienne

Head coach Thomas Tuchel has said his side needs a minor miracle for Kylian Mbappe to be available for the quarterfinal after he suffered an ankle injury in the Coupe de France final against Saint Etienne.

A horror tackle from Loic Perrin left Mbappe writhing in agony and sparked a full scale brawl. He’s unlikely to be fit for the clash with Atalanta on August 12th.

In the meantime, the other eight teams still have work to do.

FC Bayern are pretty much there already, hosting Chelsea with a first leg 3-0 lead. Though there have been bigger deficits overturned in the competition, I really can’t see the Bundesliga champions slipping up against Frank Lampard’s young Blues.

Manchester City have the upper hand over Real Madrid, having stunned Los Blancos with a late rally in the Santiago Bernabeu, leaving Madrid with a 1-2 lead.

Pep Guardiola’s priority has been transparent this season, surrendering the Premier League title to Liverpool and it looks like European glory is his priority. The Sky Blues are at 1.10 to progress with Real Madrid at 5.15.

Barcelona drew 1-1 away to Napoli and are backed at odds of 1.30 to finish the job in Catalonia, while Juventus have a one-goal deficit to overturn against Lyon.

In the toughest tie of the round to call, the Old Lady is favourite to progress at odds of 1.79 with the Ligue 1 side at 2.07.

Form teams

Manchester City have been in the best form of their season since the return of football, starting with a 5-0 win over Burnley and then battering Liverpool 4-0.

The Sky Blues swept both Newcastle and Brighton aside by 5-0 before finishing with a 4-0 victory over Watford and a 5-0 drubbing of Norwich!

Kevin De Bruyne has been the standout player in the Premier League this season and looks likely to pick up the PFA Player of the Year award.

Meanwhile, it would be a fairytale end to David Silva’s stellar career at the Etihad if the Spaniard could help his team lift the European crown.

Barcelona are still in the hunt. While they haven’t sparkled over the past two months, they still have the quality to go all the way in Europe.

It’s been a tough season for the Blaugrana but once again, Lionel Messi has been outstanding and led his team to a final game 0-5 win over Alaves.

In my view, the team to beat is FC Bayern. Hansi Flick’s team simply ripped up the Bundesliga post lock-down, winning all ten games and then they added the DFB Pokal Cup with a final victory over Bayer Leverkusen.

They have the league’s top goal scorer and top assist maker in Robert Lewandowski (34 goals) and Thomas Muller (21 assists) and that will give defences nightmares.

The Final

Bayern vs Barcelona is the big quarterfinal game and the question is, can Lionel Messi inspire his side to a victory over the most in-form side in the continent?

Flick’s team is 4.10 favourite to lift the title with Manchester City at 4.20, but I just have a sneaky feeling the Blaugrana can upset the applecart and head towards the final.

If they beat Los Blancos, Manchester City will face Juventus or Lyon and then Leipzig or Atleti. Win those and they could meet Pep’s old club Barca in the showdown on Sunday 23rd August.

What a game that would be!

In the meantime guys, keep it here at SBOBET for all the latest Champions League 2020 updates. We’ll keep them coming.

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11-Aug 2020 Tuesday 1:58 PM (40 days ago)            #46
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Champions League: Juventus Must Tame Lyon

Juventus vs Lyon

With the Scudetto in the bag, Juventus now turn their attention to the Champions League when Olympique Lyonnais visit the Juventus Stadium on Friday.

The French side arrives in Turin with a one-goal lead, and after keeping a clean sheet in the first leg at the Groupama Stadium, they will look for a priceless away goal to make Juve’s job even more difficult.

The Old Lady will hope Lyon are undercooked after the Ligue 1 season was abandoned in April, and OL head coach Rudi Garcia has a tough task to ensure his side is match fit.

The latest Juventus vs Lyon betting odds have faith in the hosts, backing them at odds of 1.80 to progress through to the quarter-final with Lyon at 2.06.

Talking Points

Time for the Old Lady to wake up

Maurizio Sarri’s team are sixth favourites to win this season’s Champions League at odds of 11.00, but if they can overturn this deficit on Friday the odds will fall.

I Bianconeri have been rather uninspiring in recent weeks despite winning a ninth successive Scudetto. They lost tamely to Roma in their final game in a run of three defeats from their final four games, including losses to lower mid-table sides Cagliari and Udinese. 

Lyon will pose a bigger threat than those two teams which finished 13th and 14th in Serie A. But surely the Old Lady will rise to this challenge. You won’t keep Cristiano Ronaldo out of the Champions League 2020 news for long and he will be determined to grab yet more headlines on Friday night.

He’s been in scintillating form again this season, scoring a colossal 31 league goals, bettered only by Capocannoniere winner Ciro Immobile. And Paulo Dybala (11 goals) has a point to prove after an inconsistent season.

With Leonardo Bonucci and Matthijs de Ligt at the heart of Juve’s defence, they will be confident of a shut-out. But if Juventus are to go all the way in this competition there are some teams in spectacular form to beat along the way.

FC Bayern and Manchester City have been eye-catching in their domestic leagues and are SBOBET Champions League favourites to lift the 2020 title.

Memphis stars for OL

Lyon’s biggest threat comes in the shape of former Manchester United player Memphis Depay. The Dutch winger has five goals in the competition and is on the radar of some top clubs after a strong European campaign.

He only managed 13 Ligue 1 games as the domestic season was curtailed, but with OL finishing seventh they have failed to qualify for Europe next season and that might tempt Depay to move.

OL are taking legal action against the league, but should that fail, and the French club bows out of the Champions League, then ears will prick up at both Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal.

BVB are making contingency plans to cover the potential loss of Jadon Sancho, while winger Depay is also a target for Arsenal, should the Gunners lose Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette in the summer.

The price tag will be around £40m should Depay move, but in the meantime he will be fully focussed on pushing Lyon towards an unlikely bid for European glory.

Champions League: Memphis Depay says Lyon head into Turin fearless of Juve

Lyon’s Memphis Depay in action with Paris St Germain’s Presnel Kimpembe

The underdogs will be dangerous; while they ended their season with two defeats, those were preceded by back-to-back wins over Juventus and Coupe de France finalists Saint-Etienne.

History

Juventus are twice winners of Europe’s premier competition, but the Old Lady’s last triumph was in 1996. Although, she came very close in recent seasons, losing in the 2015 final to Barcelona and then the 2017 final to Real Madrid.

Lyon’s best progress in the Champions League came in a semi-final appearance in 2010. They are seven times winner of Ligue 1, all between 2002 and 2008 during the club’s golden period.

Juve have won four of the six meetings between these two teams and drawn one, with the sole defeat coming in the first leg defeat when Lucas Tousart converted Houssem Aouar’s cross to score the only goal of the game. Dybala had a late effort ruled out for offside but, aside from that, Juventus failed to register a single shot on target.

Betting Tip

??
Juventus vs Lyon First Half 1X2 Juventus @ 2.03
August 08, 03:00 (GMT+8)

This is a dangerous game against a Lyon side which is hard to predict, but surely Juventus will be back to their best for their first competitive game since they won the Scudetto with a win over Sampdoria. Back to back defeats since then will mean nothing if they can overturn this tie and they will hope to catch Lyon cold.

Juventus is at 1.43 to win the match, with the draw at 4.26 and Lyon at odds of 6.12. A score-line of 2-0 at 6.56 will do the job for I Bianconeri and I think they will be ahead by the break.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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11-Aug 2020 Tuesday 2:00 PM (40 days ago)            #47
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Champions League: City and Real is the Match of the Week

Manchester City vs Real Madrid

It doesn’t get much bigger than this folks! Manchester City host Real Madrid in their second leg Round of 16 match. And whichever way the result goes, the European football world will rock!

The Champions League has been the Sky Blues’ Holy Grail from midway through the Premier League season, and head coach Pep Guardiola has a steely determination in his pursuit of Europe’s biggest prize.

The hosts go into the game with a 2-1 lead and should they see the tie out and then they will be favourites to win the trophy.

On the other hand, if Los Blancos can upset the odds, then Zinedine Zidane will still be in the hunt for an incredible fourth European crown in five seasons as Real Madrid boss.

Make no mistake about it. When the Champions League 2020 results roll in at the end of this week, all eyes will be on this clash at the Etihad.

Talking Points

Ruthless City

Here at SBOBET, we’re backing the Sky Blues to go deep into the competition, but there’s a long way to go with the best sides in Europe still in the hunt.

FC Bayern and Paris Saint Germain, in particular, will fancy their chances. However, on their best day, Manchester City can blow away any competition.

Since the return of football and having already lost the domestic title, the Sky Blues set about their opponents with a ruthless determination and handed out thrashing after thrashing.

Over the last few weeks, they have had four 5-0 wins and a couple of 4-0 victories, and one of those were against the new Premier League champions in Liverpool!

Raheem Sterling finished with 20 goals, just three behind Golden Boot winner Jamie Vardy and at an impressive 133 minutes per goal. He also has five in the Champions League and he is just one part of a brilliant City attack.

With Kevin de Bruyne and the mercurial David Silva pulling the strings, the Sky Blues can open up any defence seeming at will.

Young Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus has 14 goals and seven assists as well as matching Sterling’s five goals in the Champions League.

Then there’s Sergio Aguero who is the best striker in the Premier League over the last decade, and he will be joined by Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva. The Madrid back four has its work cut out for them!

Relentless Blancos

Champions League: Zinedine Zidane's team Real Madrid achieved ten consecutive wins in La Liga this season

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane during their match against Alaves

Since returning to action, Zinedine Zidane has inspired Real to a phenomenal run in La Liga to take the title away from Barcelona who were seeking a third successive league trophy.

Ten consecutive wins returned the title to the Bernabeu, but Los Blancos’ wins were efficient rather than spectacular as they scored either one or two goals in each of the last nine games.

Karim Benzema has carried the Real Madrid attack on his shoulders this season with 21 goals and eight assists, while their second highest scorer is captain and centre-back Sergio Ramos who scored an impressive 11 – including a couple of late penalties in 1-0 wins which drove Los Blancos on to La Liga glory.

The Spaniards need to open up against City and that could lead to them conceding at the other end. However, they can’t sit back for long.

19-year-old Brazilian sensation Rodrygo could be the player to watch as he will be looking to add to his four goals and four assists in the competition.

History

Recent Champions League history is dominated by ZZ and Real Madrid as he became the first head coach to win three consecutive titles between 2016 and 2018, and that is a record the Sky Blues would love to emulate but they would have to win one first!

Guardiola won the tournament twice with Barcelona, but the last occasion was in 2011 and that fact will be eating away at him as he strives to win a first for the Sky Blues.

In the head-to-heads, Los Blancos have won three of the seven games played since 2012, with City winning two and there have been two draws.

Kevin de Bruyne’s master class turned the first leg around at the Santiago Bernabeu as the Sky Blues fought back from a goal down with a double strike in the last 12 minutes.

First, Jesus nodded home the equaliser. And when Sterling drew a penalty, de Bruyne swept the spot kick home.

Real Madrid are unbeaten in 11 games while the Sky Blues have won the last seven at the Etihad. Something has to give for this fixture.

Betting Tip

??
Manchester City vs Real Madrid First Half Over 1.25 @ 1.86
August 8, 03:00 (GMT+8)

According to the latest Champions League 2020 betting odds, Manchester City are marginally second favourites to lift the trophy at odds of 4.40, with FC Bayern at 4.30.

Guardiola’s team is as short as 1.12 to progress to the next round. But for this game, the Sky Blues are at 1.68 to win, with Real Madrid at 4.10 and the draw at 3.95.

I expect City to prevail, and with goals for both sides with a fast start to the game.

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11-Aug 2020 Tuesday 2:14 PM (40 days ago)            #48
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Champions League: Bayern Ready to Banish the Blues

Bayern Munich vs Chelsea

After clinching another domestic double, Bayern Munich now set their sights on completing the treble as they resume their Champions League campaign against Chelsea.

The German giants have a commanding 3-0 lead after a dominant first-leg win in London, and the Champions League 2020 odds have them as massive favourites to move on to the quarter-finals.

Not only must Chelsea overcome one of the form sides in all of Europe, but they must do so without some key personnel at the Allianz Arena.

Talking Points

Bayern looking unbeatable

Bayern Munich are back in action after a well-deserved month-long break following the end of their domestic season. The Bavarians were simply brilliant during the Bundesliga restart as they won every single match en route to their eighth straight league title.

Bayern have been virtually unstoppable since the start of 2020. They have won an incredible 21 out of 22 competitive matches this calendar year, and have won the last 17 in a row.

That includes their comprehensive 3-0 win over Chelsea in the first leg. Serge Gnabry bagged a brace while Robert Lewandowski, who set up both of Gnabry’s goals, added a third.

Champions League: Serge Gnabry scored a brace in their 3-0 win over Chelsea in the first leg

Serge Gnabry giving signal during their friendly match against Olympique Marseille

Gnabry didn’t score many goals after the restart, but he got one in their 4-2 DFB-Pokal Final win over Bayer Leverkusen and also scored the only goal in their friendly win over Marseille last week.

Meanwhile, Lewandowski has been outstanding all season long with 52 goals, but he’s been especially brilliant making Champions League 2020 highlights. He has scored in all six appearances this season in the Champions League and has 11 goals in total, which leads the competition.

Bayern boss Hansi Flick will have almost no concerns when it comes to squad selection. Right-back Benjamin Pavard is ruled out, but Bayern have enough options to overcome his absence.

Chelsea dealing with injury crisis

Chelsea will be back in the Champions League next season after clinching fourth place in the Premier League. But their participation past the round-of-16 second leg against Bayern Munich is very much in doubt.

Not only do they have a 3-0 deficit to overcome away from home, but they must do so with a rash of major injuries and absentees. Frank Lampard’s side suffered some significant injury casualties in their 2-1 FA Cup defeat to Arsenal the previous weekend.

Christian Pulisic, who opened the scoring against Arsenal after just five minutes, and Cesar Azpilicueta both picked up hamstring injuries which have ruled them out against Bayern. Veteran forward Pedro also picked up a knock and will be unavailable as well.

Meanwhile, both Marcos Alonso — who was sent off in the first leg — and Jorginho are suspended, while star midfielder N’Golo Kante is an injury doubt.

Pulisic’s absence will be a major blow to Chelsea’s attack. The young American was one of the team’s standout performers post-restart as he had five goals and two assists in 12 appearances.

But even with Pulisic, Chelsea’s leaky defence would still struggle to keep a clean sheet against a Bayern side that’s been scoring goals for fun this season.

History

Bayern and Chelsea have met five previous times in European competition. Bayern have the 2-1 edge in wins, while they’ve drawn on two occasions.

The two sides famously met in the 2012 Champions League final, which Chelsea went on to win on penalties.

Chelsea had advanced in their quarter-final meeting in the 2004-05 season, going through 6-5 on aggregate.

Bayern have a fine record in the round of 16, with 11 wins and four defeats. Although, they’ve lost three of their last five home matches in the Champions League knockout stage.

Bayern have lost only one of their 25 UEFA ties in which they won the away first leg, going out to Internazionale in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League round of 16.

Betting Tip

??
Bayern Munich vs Chelsea Bayern Munich Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 2.07
August 9, 03:00 (GMT+8)

SBOBET odds have Bayern priced at 1.36, the biggest favourites among the final four second-leg matches. On the other end, Chelsea are the biggest underdogs at 7.00, with a draw at 5.20.

Clearly, Bayern don’t have much to play for in this match. They can decide not to take this match too seriously and still go through by a comfortable margin.

But Hansi Flick will want to get Bayern back up to speed after their lengthy break, so expect the home side to show no mercy against a shorthanded Chelsea side.

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17-Aug 2020 Monday 3:36 PM (34 days ago)            #49
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Champions League: Barca Bid to Save Season on Biggest Stage of All

Barcelona vs Napoli

The Champions League – the ultimate competition in world football – is back and this tie, before an empty Nou Camp stadium, is delicately poised.

Of course, only one team will prevail, and the hosts are huge favourites.

Yet after an underwhelming conclusion to the domestic campaign when a series of costly draws cost them the La Liga crown to their arch-rivals, Barcelona really need to win this to ease some of the growing pressure on manager Quique Setien.

Talking Points

On the upside, Barca are unbeaten in 35 Champions League home matches, a run that started in September 2013 (won 31, drawn four).

Indeed, their 5-1 defeat of Lyon at this stage last season eclipsed the previous competition record of 29 set by Bayern Munich between March 1998 and April 2002.

Furthermore, they have a fine record at home to Serie A clubs with just two defeats in 26 encounters. They are unbeaten in their last 15 home fixtures against Italian visitors, winning 12, since losing 2-1 to Juventus in the 2003 quarter-finals.

And if those statistics aren’t enough to back the home side, they have never lost a last 16 tie in this competition when playing the second leg at home.

So, more Champions League highlights await at their Camp Nou fortress surely?

Well, you would think so but their exits over the past two seasons, spurning healthy leads against Roma and Liverpool, will mean there will be an air of nervousness and a desire to avoid a repeat of such complacency.

It won’t help that Setien will be without a number of high-profile stars due to injuries and suspensions with Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal both suspended and Antoine Griezmann far from certain of starting as he aims to regain match fitness.

However, while they have captain Lionel Messi, they always have a chance.

In the words of seasoned Spanish football reporter, Graham Hunter, ‘Messi doesn’t just dictate Barça’s chances of continuing their 35-match unbeaten home record in this competition, the Argentinian determines the mood too.’

In the 28 year history of the Champions League, only one Barcelona manager (Louis van Gaal) has failed to win his first home game as coach.

Setién now has the chance to join the likes of Johan Cruyff, Bobby Robson and Pep Guardiola and Messi will be his key man.

Standing in his way is a Napoli side, managed by Gennaro Gattuso, which held them to a first leg 1-1 draw at the Stadio San Paolo.

The omens are not good for the Italians who have lost their last four two-legged ties against Spanish opposition and won only seven of their last 21 matches in the competition (all bar one of those at home). Indeed, they have only won once in their last nine away European fixtures.

The backline is the issue for Gattuso as he could be without key defenders Kostas Manolas and Nikola Maksimović.

Perhaps more worryingly though is the fact Lorenzo Insigne is racing against the clock to make Saturday’s match after sustaining an adductor injury in last weekend’s success over Lazio.

Champions League: Napoli star Lorenzo Insigne faces a race against time to be fit

Lorenzo Insigne in action for Napoli against Inter Milan

Napoli need to score at least once in the Nou Camp to progress and the loss of their captain would be a major setback.

In what has been a season of ups and downs, most notably caused by a fallout between the team, predecessor Carlo Ancelotti and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis, Gattuso has helped Napoli smile again after guiding the Partenopei to the Coppa Italia, which they won by defeating old foes Juventus on penalties for their first silverware since 2014.

If Gattuso, who faced Barcelona six times in the Champions League as a player with AC Milan (won two, drawn two, lost two), masterminds a triumph in Spain, it will be his finest achievement in management to date. It could also spark Setien’s swift departure.

History

In February’s first leg, Dries Mertens opened the scoring with his 121st goal for Napoli, moving him level with Marek Hamšík as the club’s all-time leading marksman, but was later forced off through injury.

Griezmann then turned in Nélson Semedo’s cross for Barcelona’s equaliser.

That was their first official clash.

They did meet in a pre-season friendly in 2011/12 when Barcelona won 5-0 in which Messi netted twice.

Betting Tip

??
Barcelona vs Napoli Barcelona Asian Handicap -1.00 @ 2.11
August 09, 03:00 (GMT+8)

The winners of this tie will next week head to Lisbon in Portugal for a unique one-off format of Europe’s premier club competition.

The SBOBET Champions League betting odds suggest Barca will be there and I agree.

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17-Aug 2020 Monday 3:38 PM (34 days ago)            #50
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Champions League: City Cruise as Real Bear Gifts

Manchester City (4-2 on agg.) 2-1 Real Madrid

It was some time since these sides clashed in Madrid on a night when fans were still allowed inside football stadiums, Sergio Ramos received the 26th red card of his career and Manchester City came of age in Europe.

Since then, Real have recovered to regain the La Liga crown, while City have relinquished their English equivalent and were surprisingly sent packing from the FA Cup at the semi-final stage.

What’s more, Los Blancos had secured 30 points out of 30 to win La Liga after the restart so Zinedine Zidane’s men were a side in form.

Yet, it is the Champions League which is now the holy grail for the wealth-laden English club and they weren’t going to let the record 13-time winners undo all their hard work from February.

You also suspected Pep Guardiola would love nothing more than to see off the arch-rivals from his Barcelona days – and here he got his wish.

Highlights of the game

There was no question this was the match of the week anywhere in world football. And with Madrid unbeaten in 11 games and City winning the last seven at the Etihad, something had to give.

What few expected was that trailing 2-1 from the first leg, Real would be such generous visitors.

In truth, the better side won but this was a gift-wrapped victory for City as the usually reliable Raphael Varane picked one of the worst possible occasions to go AWOL from the backline.

Sure, with Ramos suspended, the SBOBET Champions League betting odds didn’t favour them but City were also missing their most potent frontman in Sergio Aguero.

It mattered not.

Only nine minutes had elapsed when Varane dithered on the ball inside his own penalty area, a mistake which allowed Gabriel Jesus to pinch possession and find Raheem Sterling who sidefooted home for his 100th goal for the club.

Urged on by squad members and backroom staff sitting behind the technical area, City were clearly pumped up for this one and Sterling showed lovely footwork and seemed set to add a second only for Casemiro to block his shot.

Of course, Real haven’t won the Spanish title without possessing bags of quality, and Ederson had to be alert to push away a Karim Benzema shot and an Eden Hazard drive as the visitors sought a quick response.

It was Hazard’s teammate, Thibaut Courtois (also on his return to England), who was next called into action to punch away a dangerous Kevin de Bruyne delivery before Ederson was again tested by Benzema.

The Frenchman would not be denied a third time as he headed an equaliser from a Rodrygo cross but, even then, at no point did I think Real were capable of turning the tie around in their favour.

Chances continued to arrive at both ends but City made sure midway through the second period when Varane made his second uncharacteristic mistake of the night, selling Courtois short, which allowed Jesus to nip in and tuck home a crucial second.

Real had few world-class options on the bench and certainly not Gareth Bale – Real’s final match-winner two seasons ago – who didn’t even make the squad after coach Zidane claimed the Welshman did not want to participate.

Whether he watched or not, he would have seen few Champions League highlights for his own side.

This may have been the 13-time champions’ 50th European Cup campaign, more than any other side, but it has ended just as it did last season – at the last 16.

City are into the last eight.

Key statistics

Sterling is the first Englishman to reach three figures for the club since Dennis Tueart in 1981 and is just the sixth Englishman to score 20 Champions League goals. Only Wayne Rooney reached that total at a younger age than Sterling.

Jesus is just the second player to score in both legs of a Champions League knockout tie against Real for an English side after Ruud van Nistelrooy with Manchester United in 2002-03.

Varane is the first Madrid player to commit two errors leading to a goal in a single Champions League match for more than a decade.

Zinedine Zidane fails to overcome the Pep Guardiola’s resurgent squad in the Champions League

Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola shake hands after the match

Guardiola is the third manager to eliminate Madrid in the knockout stages of the Champions League on more than one occasion, along with Marcello Lippi (1995/96, 2002/03) and Ottmar Hitzfeld (2000/01, 2006/07).

In their 76th Champions League match, City scored their 150th and conceded their 100th goal in the competition, the fastest to both figures for any English side in the competition.

Madrid have lost the home first leg six times in UEFA competition and won only one tie, recovering from a 1-0 loss with a 2-0 win at Wacker Innsbruck in the 1970/71 European Cup Winners’ Cup second round.

Only five times in the Champions League era has a team turned around a tie after a home first-leg defeat, although three of those last season; Tottenham against Ajax in the semi-finals (0-1 h, 3-2 a) and, in the round of 16, Manchester United against Paris-Saint Germain (0-2 h, 3-1 a) and Ajax against Madrid themselves (1-2 h, 4-1 a).

City have never failed to win a European tie after an away first-leg victory. Their record against Spanish clubs in two-legged knockout ties is won two, lost four.

This was Benzema’s third goal against City for Real.

What’s next?

Lyon now await a week on Saturday in the one-legged quarter-final.

The remainder of the competition will be played in Portugal, all single-leg affairs, and played at two venues in Lisbon (Benfica’s Estadio da Luz and Sporting Lisbon’s Estadio Jose Alvalade) from August 12-23.

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17-Aug 2020 Monday 3:41 PM (34 days ago)            #51
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Champions League: Bayern Cruise, Barca Await

Bayern Munich 4-1 (7-1 on agg.) Chelsea

The outcome of this Champions League encounter was never in doubt for me.

From the moment Bayern blew the Blues away in February, this was only going in one direction.

Only one half of Champions League 2020 highlights was required as Serge Gnabry struck twice in four early second-half minutes before the pick of the bunch as Philippe Coutinho released the outstanding Alphonso Davies with a cute flick and his cross was buried by Robert Lewandowski.

From that moment onwards, the Bundesliga champions were this SBOBET observer’s tip to win the 2020 competition – let alone this tie – and the enforced football hiatus has not changed my mind one iota.

Tonight’s events just confirmed it further.

Highlights of the game

Three goals ahead before kick-off, brilliant Bayern had increased their advantage within 10 minutes at the Allianz Arena and the remainder of the evening was a formality.

First, Gnabry slipped a lovely pass through to Lewandowski who reached the ball a split-second before Willy Caballero and was brought down.

The resultant penalty was slotted home by the Polish frontman for his 52nd goal of the season!

Then, Mateo Kovacic was shoved off the ball by Thomas Muller and the ball ran to Lewandowski, whose side rule pass found the unmarked Ivan Perisic who guided home the second.

At this stage, many fans may have looked at the Champions League 2020 betting odds for a rout but, to Chelsea’s credit, they continued to battle against the fading light of what was an unenviable task.

Champions League: Chelsea are out of the competition following a second-leg defeat to Chelsea

Tammy Abraham reacts after Chelsea scored a goal against Bayern Munich that was later disallowed

Callum Hudson-Odoi deserved a goal for his sumptuous finish, only for VAR to rule Tammy Abraham had strayed offside. But an element of spirit paid off on the stroke of half-time when Abraham pulled one back after Manuel Neuer pushed out an Emerson cross straight at the club’s top scorer.

After losing three players to injury in their FA Cup final defeat by Arsenal last weekend, including their skipper César Azpilicueta and the outstanding Christian Pulišić, and with both Marcos Alonso and Jorginho suspended, the west Londoners were certainly short of options and Abraham’s goal never seemed more than a consolation.

Hansi Flick’s side were simply too strong and, unlike in the FA Cup final when Chelsea could blame themselves, this was a very different story as Bayern, fresh from sealing a German double amid a 17-match winning run, eased to victory.

Into the second half and Davies, the 19-year-old who has just been named the Bundesliga’s Rookie of the Year award after playing a key role in the club’s title triumph (chalking up three goals and five assists in 29 league appearances) was only denied a third goal by a superb Kurt Zouma block.

The only downside for the hosts came just before the hour mark when Jerome Boateng appeared to pull up while heading the ball back to his goalkeeper but he managed to play on for a while, although it’s too early to say if he is doubtful with the quarter-final only six days away.

Caballero and Zouma made important saves and challenges to prevent further home goals but, as if to highlight their supremacy, they added two more.

A third on the night made it 6-1 on aggregate when substitute Corentin Tolisso, left unmarked, fired home just six minutes after entering the fray.

Lewandowski then notched his second, to add to his two assists, when he powered a downward header back across goal and into the net from an Alvaro Odriozola delivery.

Key statistics

Lewandowski has scored 52 goals in 44 appearances in all competitions this season, finding the net in 36 of those matches.

This was Muller’s 112th appearance in the Champions League, the joint-most by a German player along with his former teammate Philipp Lahm, who played 112 times between 2002 and 2017.

Chelsea tonight became the first team in Champions League history to start three Englishmen aged 21 or younger in a knockout match.

The team has failed to win any of its last 10 knockout matches in the competition (drawn four, lost six).

Bayern Munich have won 30 of 33 competitive matches under Flick, scoring 104 goals and conceding just 24.

Bayern have lost only one of their 26 UEFA ties in which they won the away first leg, going out to then holders Inter Milan in the 2011 Champions League last 16.

David Alaba, Boateng, Müller and Neuer were all part of the Bayern team that lost to Chelsea in the 2012 Final.

What’s next?

The remainder of the competition will be played in Lisbon, all single-leg affairs, and what a quarter-final awaits next Friday (August 14) as Bayern meet Barcelona.

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17-Aug 2020 Monday 7:41 PM (34 days ago)            #52
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Magical Messi Just Loves the Champions League!

Barcelona 3-1 (4-2 on agg.) Napoli

Napoli gave it a damn good go. You would expect that of any team managed by Gennaro Gattuso!

But in the end, the fact this tie was one which Barcelona simply had to win – their fate in this competition could effectively save their season – and the fact they possess one of the greatest players the game has ever seen, showed.

Three goals inside 36 first-half minutes did the damage and so Barcelona extended to 36 matches a record of unbeaten home Champions League home matches.

Highlights of the game

Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso greets his players following their Champions League quarter-final exit

Gennaro Gattuso with Napoli players after their Champions League defeat against Barcelona at Camp Nou

Could it have been different? Well, yes it could.

Inside 90 seconds, Dries Mertens (chasing his seventh Champions League goal of the campaign) hit the post whereas a few inches difference would have given Napoli a priceless away goal.

Less than 10 minutes later, Clement Lenglet headed in Ivan Rakitic’s corner and Barca had a lead they never relinquished.

Home coach Quique Setien said before the match that he wasn’t worried about his future and had not even thought about the possibility of being sacked should Barcelona fail to progress to the final eight in Portugal.

He had even more reason to smile when his mercurial captain Lionel Messi doubled his side’s advantage in style.

It was a magic moment from the Argentine wonder who wove his way through three Napoli defenders, despite ending up on his hands and knees en route, before dispatching a fine strike.

After getting back to his feet to shoot, Messi managed to whip his shot around Kostas Manolas and into the far side of David Ospina’s goal.

It was Manolas who scored Roma’s decisive third goal in a remarkable comeback victory against Barcelona in the 2018 quarter-finals but from that moment, there was never going to be a repeat.

It was also one of the true Champions League 2020 highlights as all 11 home players touched the ball in the build-up to the goal.

Messi actually thought he had further added to his tally of 115 Champions League goals in 142 games just seven minutes later, only for a lengthy VAR review to deem he had handled the ball.

VAR backed the hosts on the stroke of half-time, however, when Kalidou Koulibaly brought down Messi and Luis Suarez stepped up to convert the penalty.

Napoli, who went to extreme measures to protect their squad and staff in Barcelona – Catalunya is one of the worst-affected areas by the Covid-19 pandemic – must have been shellshocked after contributing to a closely contested first half.

Seconds later, they had a glimmer of hope as Rakitic conceded a penalty for a foul on Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne – who had faced a race against the clock to make the match after sustaining an adductor injury in last weekend’s success over Lazio – converted from 12 yards.

Had Napoli substitute Arkadiusz Milik not seen a late header ruled out for offside, there could have been a frantic finish but, for all of Napoli’s spirit, the gap was just too much.

Key statistics

Messi has now scored 27 goals at this stage of the competition with Napoli the 13th side he’s netted against in the last 16.

It was also the first time he has scored against the Partenopei which means he has scored against 35 different clubs in the Champions League, two more than the next best, Cristiano Ronaldo.

This was Messi’s 142nd Champions League appearance and he is now joint fourth with Raúl González in the all-time list.

Napoli have lost all three of their Champions League last 16 ties – the previous two times the team that knocked them out went on to lift the trophy, Chelsea in 2012 and Real Madrid in 2017.

Insigne’s penalty means he has become the first Italian player to score at least once against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu and against Barca in the Nou Camp.

Barcelona have become the first team to reach eight successive Champions League quarter-finals.

Suarez’s last 16 Champions League goals have come at the Nou Camp.

Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 16 home fixtures against Italian sides, winning 13, since losing 2-1 to Juventus in the 2003 quarter-final second leg.

Barca’s 36-match unbeaten home record in the competition began in September 2013 (won 32, drawn four); the 5-1 defeat of Lyon in last season’s round-of-16 second leg eclipsed the previous competition record of 29 set by Bayern Munich between March 1998 and April 2002.

What’s next?

It’s quarter-final time and Bayern Munch await Barca in Lisbon next Friday (August 14) for what should be a one-legged Champions League cracker.

The SBOBET Champions League 2020 betting odds will also make fascinating reading.

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17-Aug 2020 Monday 7:44 PM (34 days ago)            #53
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Champions League: All Pressure on Parisians in Portugal

Paris Saint-Germain vs Atalanta

There are few sights more heart-warming in the Champions League than a provincial club beating one of Europe’s free-scoring big boys.

Yet that can’t be ruled out in Germany this midweek as competition debutants take on mega-rich aristocrats.

Atalanta may not possess any of the superstars of their opponents, Paris St Germain, but they can be a match for anyone on their day as sides across Europe have been fast finding out.

Talking Points

Valencia were among the teams to feel the full force of the Bergamo club in March.

On that occasion, Josip Ilicic was the hero of the hour as the Spaniards were ruthlessly dispatched 8-4 on aggregate – a result which they struggled to